NASA Just Released the Last Glorious Panoramic View of Mars from Opportunity Rover
Thanks to NASA's various missions to Mars, we've been able to get a fairly up-close look at the Red Planet and its surprisingly Desert Valley-esque terrain...
Thanks to NASA's ongoing exploration of Mars, we've been able to get a fairly up-close look at the Red Planet and its rugged, hostile terrain. Still, though, every new transmission from our neighboring planet provides some fresh perspective on the place many believe may soon become humanity's second home. And now we have an even better picture of the landscape thanks to a just-released panoramic pic taken by NASA's Opportunity rover just before it was knocked offline (for good) by a giant dust storm in 2018.
The new 360-degree image, which is actually a compilation of 354 different photos taken by the rover's Panoramic Camera between May 13 and June 10 of 2018, provides a compelling view from Mars' Perseverance Valley, which turned out to be Opportunity's final resting place, according to NASA. It's certainly a better view than the final haunting image the space robot sent: a blurry shot of the dust storm that killed it.
To help differentiate areas and materials, NASA made the panorama (shown above) in "false color" which enhances certain elements. In the immediate foreground just left of center you can see a rocky outcrop that the vehicle had been investigating using its robotic arm in its final days. Helpfully, the image is annotated with other geologic details to give you a better sense of what you're looking at.
If you're curious why certain parts of the panorama remain in black and white, it's because the Rover was knocked out by the massive dust storm before it was able to capture those areas with all three color filters it typically used when shooting pics.
It's OK to be sad that to see Opportunity go, but the truth is that hearty space robot lived well beyond what was expected. Its mission was initially only meant to last 90 days, but it operated for a whopping 14 years. And, hey, its buddy Curiosity is still kicking out there and investigating all kinds of mysterious stuff.