NASA’s Opportunity ended its operation on June 10, 2018, but researchers are still going through the data. The indefatigable rover’s mission came to a close due to an incredible global dust storm that enveloped the whole of Mars. Without sunlight, the rover’s battery quickly depleted and NASA was unable to re-establish contact with it.
Prior to this, Opportunity snapped photos over 29 days to construct a 360-degree panorama from the Endeavour crater. The location is often called Opportunity’s second landing site, and the rover reached it in 2011, seven years after it first landed on the Red Planet.
The rover took 354 pictures from May 13 through June 10, in three different filters. In the left corner of the panorama, there is still an area in black and white. This is because it had no time to photograph the same area using the green and violet filters, so we are only left with the near-infrared. It is poignant that Opportunity’s last panorama was cut short.
"This final panorama embodies what made our Opportunity rover such a remarkable mission of exploration and discovery," Opportunity project manager John Callas, from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), said in a statement. "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 gallery available on NASA’s JPL website also includes the very last photos from Opportunity. There are two black-and-white thumbnail images of the sky with the faint Sun visible in them. These were used to determine how opaque the sky was getting on its last day because of the dust storm. The last piece of data the rover ever transmitted is a "noisy", incomplete full-frame image of a darkened sky.
After attempting to get in touch for many months, NASA ended the mission last February 13. The rover's original mission was supposed to last for only 90 days. In the end, it drove around Mars for 14 years and 293 days, 55 times longer than its planned lifetime. Opportunity was also the first rover to complete a marathon in space, and by the end of the mission, it had completed 45.16 kilometers (28.06 miles) on the surface of Mars.