Before its circuits cooled down in the shadow of a Martian dust storm, Opportunity took a long look at its surroundings and saved it for posterity.
The image represents a touching conclusion to the rover's mission; a detailed panorama that combines the most recent traces of his marathon trip with a taste of the sands he would never have touched.
Forget the science for a moment. Look
The opportunity was not designed to work as much for long as he did. Only 90 days eventually stretched over 15 solid years of rolling on the sands of Mars, pumping out snapshots like a tourist who has forgotten everything about their retirement.
The 360 degree image was taken from the final resting place of the rover in May last year. Over 29 days, Opportunity absorbed its surroundings in a series of 354 individual snapshots before transmitting them to NASA to merge together.
While most of them offer a colorful view of the landscape, the handful of black and white blocks in the corners were taken with faded energy, denying Opportunity the time needed to capture the last scene with shades of green and purple.
"This final panorama represents what has made our rover Opportunity such an extraordinary exploration and discovery mission," says John Callas of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
"To the right of the center you can see the edge of the Endeavor Crater that rises in the distance, just to the left of this, the rover's traces begin their descent from beyond the horizon and intertwine to the geological features that our scientists wanted to examine closely.
"And to the extreme right and left are the bottom of Perseverance Valley and the floor of Endeavor crater, pristine and unexplored, awaiting visits from future explorers. "
Anyone – or whatever – will be the future explorers will be left to see.
Undoubtedly one day a future space traveler of both human and robotic type will meet with the old rover, and perhaps he will also find a way make it operational again.
Until then, the image will go down in history along with other famous space exploration snapshots, which serve as eyes on another world.