It's not every day that a coin is part of NASA's "Astro Pic of
the Day," but it did happen today.
The 1909 Lincoln, V.D.B. cent that is on the surface of Mars aboard
the Curiosity rover is seen in an image that NASA calls its "Astro Pic of the
Day" for Dec. 12.
The NASA image shows crystals on the surface of Mars. Here is the
This extreme close-up, a mosaic from the Mars
Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) on the Curiosity rover, spans a
breathtaking 5 centimeters. It captures what appear to be elongated
crystal shapes formed by the precipitation of minerals dissolved in
water, a likely result of the evaporation of an ancient lake or
river from the Martian surface. Brushed by a dust
removal tool and illuminated by white LEDs, the target rock named
Mojave was found on the Pink Cliffs outcrop of the Pahrump Hills at
the base of Mount Sharp. The MAHLI images were
acquired on Curiosity's sol 809, the day known on planet
Earth as November 15, 2014. Of course, the inset 1909 Lincoln Cent image is provided for a
comparison scale. Covered with Mars dust itself, the penny is a MAHLI
calibration target attached to the rover.
Coin World reported here in detail why a Lincoln cent was sent to Mars
as part of a science package. And as reported here, two State quarter dollars are serving as
part of the New Horizons mission to the dwarf planet Pluto, due to
arrive in July 2015.