A video showing a sunset on Mars has been put together by NASA using photos captured by the Opportunity rover, which is stationed on the red planet’s surface.
The stunning video was put together with images captured by one of NASA’s robots currently exploring life and planets beyond Earth. Opportunity — also known as MER-B (Mars Exploration Rover – B) or MER-1 — was launched on July 7, 2003 and has been active on Mars’ surface since 2004.
The space agency shared the video on its website and social media with the caption, “The sun descends to the Martian horizon and sets in this 30-second movie simulation using images from the panoramic camera (Pancam) on NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.”
According to NASA, the primary surface mission for Opportunity was planned to last 90 sols (Martian years). However, the mission has received several extensions and has now been in operation for 4,048 days since it landed in 2003.
During its time on Mars the Opportunity has not only captured images of the sunset on the red planet, but has explored its surface like no other device. Some stunning images have been sent to Earth for scientists to study and share with the public.
Opprotunity’s time on Mars has not gone on without problems, in December 2014, NASA reported that the rover was suffering from “amnesia” — events in which the rover fails to write data. This failure is believed to be due to an age-related fault in one of the rover’s seven memory banks, according to a report in Discovery.
As a result, NASA is attempting to force Opportunity’s software to ignore the failed memory bank. However, this problem hasn’t prevented it from taking pictures as the ones seen in the sunset on Mars video.
The rover can take pictures with its different cameras, but the PanCam (Panoramic Camera) is the only one that has the ability to use different color filters. Any panorama views are usually put together with photos from PanCam images and as of November 20, 2013, the Opportunity rover has returned 186,246 pictures back to Earth.
Additionally, to the stunning images of the sunset on Mars, Opportunity has provided real evidence in support of the mission’s primary scientific goals: to search for and characterize a range of rocks and soils that hold clues to past water activity on Mars, NASA states. Opportunity was honored for its contributions with the naming of an asteroid in 2008.
[Image via NASA Mars Exploration Rover]