Human exploration of Mars is still a relatively distant goal for NASA, with the first manned missions to the red planet predicted to occur sometime after the year 2030. In the meantime, scientists are relying on the next best resource at their disposal: the Opportunity rover.
Operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech, Opportunity has gone above and beyond its original mission parameters. Its original mission was slated to last only 90 days, but it has since exceeded its planned duration by a factor of 30 and continues to wow researchers and the public with amazing images, such as this latest panorama below.
Dr. William J. Clancy of the NASA Ames Research Center addressed a Commonwealth Club audience on how working through remote-controlled rovers like Spirit and Opportunity allows scientists to use robots as extensions of themselves.
NASA maintains a number of other panoramas from Opportunity, and it’s now-silent sister probe Spirit, on the Mars Exploration Rovers homepage.