US Coins

Lincoln cent on Mars part of NASA Astro Pic of the Day

A 1909 Lincoln, V.D.B. cent carried aboard the Curiosity rover on Mars is seen in this image that is NASA's "Astro Pic of the Day" for Dec. 12, 2014.

Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech, MSSS

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 NASA explanation:

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.

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