NASA Opportunity in pictures: Most STUNNING photos of Mars captured by NASA Mars rover


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Higher regions of Mount Sharp. Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech and MSSS

NASA has confirmed Opportunity is no longer in action on the Martian inhospitable surface. Opportunity, which had been exploring Mars since 2004, fell victim to a violent dust storm powerful enough to blot-out the sun and coat its solar panels, Opportunity’s only source of energy. Fortunately Opportunity managed to beam back reams of data and shoot incredible photographs during the 5,352 Martian days it spend on the Red Planet.

Opportunity’s NASA engineers kept the Mars rover going despite the unforgiving Martian environment, including brutal temperature swings and harsh dust storms.

Opportunity was a little rover that defied the odds and did so much in the name of exploration.” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.

And Opportunity survived for 15 years on Mars – 60 times longer than its initial three month mission.

Data collected by the rover helped show that Mars was once a lot warmer and wetter than it is today. Along the way, it sent 217,000 images back to Earth, giving us a stunning view of our planetary neighbor. Here are a few snapshots from Opportunity’s epic mission.

The data revealed how Mars was once a lot warmer and wetter than the barren planet it is today.

 Twenty-four Martian days after Opportunity landed, it took this picture of what NASA called its empty nest

Opportunity: Twenty-four Martian days after landing, the rover took its first picture (Image: NASA)

 Opportunity’s shadow extends over the landscape in this 2004 picture

Opportunity: The rover's shadow extends over the landscape in this 2004 picture (Image: NASA)

Along the way, Opportunity beamed back 217,000 images back to Earth, providing unrivalled views of our nearest neighbor.

Jim Bridenstine, an administrator at the US space agency said: “It is because of trailblazing missions such as Opportunity that there will come a day when our brave astronauts walk on the surface of Mars.

And when that day arrives, some portion of that first footprint will be owned by the men and women of Opportunity, and a little rover that defied the odds and did so much in the name of exploration."

The emotional news from NASA was made all the more poignant after the space agency revealed Opportunity’s final message with Earth.

As the Martian storm descended on the rover and the skies were choked of all sunlight, the solar-powered Opportunity messaged NASA saying: "My battery is low and it’s getting dark."

News of Opportunity’s “death” sparked worldwide support and words of consolation for NASA and its engineers.

Messages of support flooded social media as Opportunity’s heartbreaking last words were revealed to the public.

@h4wtf tweeted: “I CRIED WHEN I HEARD THE NEWS Hi I'll be 20 in a few days and still cried about inanimate object #art #ink #doodle #opportunityrover #NASA

 NASA nicknamed these Mars round rock formations blueberries

Opportunity: NASA nicknamed these Mars round rock formations 'blueberries' (Image: NASA)

 In 2004, Opportunity spied these small reddish dunes on the floor of Endurance Crater.

Opportunity: In 2004, the rover spied these small reddish dunes on the Endurance Crater's floor (Image: NASA)

 Opportunity and its twin Spirit had a rough landing

Opportunity: The rover and its twin Spirit had a rough landing (Image: NASA)

And @temoulin posted: “Is it weird that I may be mourning a little? #OpportunityRover

@ahoyjamie, said: “When Opportunity rover said, ‘My battery is low and it’s getting dark’, I felt that.

@yoonmims, said: “Love how the Mars Opportunity rover was only supposed to go on a 90-day mission and yet it survived for 15 years. Truly an icon.

@Khalid_Mirany, said: "Yesterday marked a very heart-saddening event."

Opportunity’s legacy:

Among its many accomplishments, Opportunity set a one-day Mars driving record early on in its mission, when it traveled 721ft (220m).

Among the 217,000 images it sent to Earth, Opportunity supplied 15 360-degree color panoramas.

Opportunity also exposed the surfaces of 52 rocks, revealing fresh mineral surfaces for analysis.

And the Mars rover also cleared 72 additional targets with a brush to prepare them for inspection with spectrometers and a microscopic imager.

One major discovery was the discovery of hematite, a mineral that forms in water, at its landing site.

And the Mars rover also found strong indications of the action of ancient water similar to the drinkable water of a pond or lake on Earth, at the Endeavor Crater.

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