NASA's Opportunity Rover took one final stunning 360 degree panorama of Mars

NASA  JPL-Caltech  Cornell  ASU

"The [below] image is a cropped version of the last 360-degree panorama taken by the Opportunity rover's Panoramic Camera (Pancam) from May 13 through June 10, 2018".

The trailblazing mission ended after almost 15 years of exploring the surface of Mars, but its legacy will live on.

As the sky darkened around it last spring, Opportunity snapped many photos of its environs - Perseverance Valley, on the rim of the 14-mile-wide (22 kilometers) Endeavour Crater - using its panoramic camera.

You can view the finer details of the huge panorama at NASA's JPL website.

After months of trying to revive Opportunity, NASA officially declared both rovers', which were of a similar size to a golf cart, missions had been completed. This latest panorama is like a greatest hits of the Red Planet, containing Mars' signature reddish rocks, the rim of Endeavour Crater, pieces of Opportunity itself, and views of its tracks. "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", he said.

Before "Oppy" finally kicked the bucket-the rover succumbed to a severe global dust storm in June 2018-it managed to beam back one last parting gift to Earth which the space agency has now released: a spectacular 360-degree panorama of what turned out to be the vehicle's final resting place. It shows a number of interesting features of Perseverance Valley, in addition to the pristine, unexplored floor of Endurance Crater.

The solar-powered Opportunity Rover's trail blazing mission was lauded as one of the most successful and enduring feats of interplanetary exploration.

Opportunity was part of the Mars Exploration Rovers program that called for two identical machines to be sent to Mars.

Opportunity's mission launched on July 7, 2003, and landed on the Red Planet on January 24, 2004.

Spirit and Opportunity both far outlasted their warranties.

Mike Wall's book about the search for alien life, "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated byKarl Tate), is out now.

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