Over 29 days in spring of 2018, NASA’s Opportunity rover on Mars documented a 360-degree panorama from multiple images taken in Mars’ Perseverance Valley. And then a dust storm rolled in, causing Opportunity – whose nickname is “Oppy” – to cease communications with Earth on June 10. Many hoped Opportunity would reboot once the weather cleared, but it did not. On February 13, 2019, NASA officials declared that the Opportunity mission was complete, after the spacecraft had failed to respond to over 1,000 signals sent since August 2018. And thus the panorama in Perseverance Valley – a portion of which is shown above – was Opportunity’s final image.
As Opportunity’s mission had lasted 15 years, many are understandably nostalgic about this image. Opportunity project manager John Callas of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, commented:
This final panorama embodies what made our Opportunity rover such a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery.
To the right of center you can see the rim of Endeavor Crater rising in the distance. Just to the left of that, rover tracks begin their descent from over the horizon and weave their way down to geologic features that our scientists wanted to examine up close.
And to the far right and left are the bottom of Perseverance Valley and the floor of Endeavour crater, pristine and unexplored, waiting for visits from future explorers.
The entire panorama – which you can see below or here – is composed of 354 individual images provided by the rover’s Panoramic Camera (Pancam) from May 13 through June 10, 2019. Those dates correspond to sols (Martian days) 5,084 through 5,111.
Bottom line: The Opportunity rover’s final image is a panorama, acquired from Opportunity’s final resting place in Mars’ Perseverance Valley.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.