Mars Penny after a year on the Red Planet

mrs penny

1909 penny being carried by the Mars Curiosity rover is caked with dust on Oct. 2, 2013, after 14 months on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Planetary Science Institute

This is an image of a 1909 Lincoln Penny after about 14 months exposed to the elements on Mars. This penny was made in a time when spaceflight was little more than fantasy. Do you think when it was being made them workers at the mint had any idea this one cent piece would one day be on the surface of another planet? Inspiring to think about how much technology has changed since this coin was made. I would venture to say Abraham Lincoln would be proud to know his was the first face on the surface of another planet.

“The image shows that, during the penny’s 14 months (so far) on Mars, it has accumulated Martian dust and clumps of dust, despite its vertical mounting position,” the Planetary Science Institute stated.

“At 14 micrometers per pixel, this is the highest resolution image that the MAHLI can acquire,” the statement added.

“This image was obtained as part of a test; it was the first time that the rover’s robotic arm placed the MAHLI

mars penny prelaunch

Curiosity’s calibration target, shown before launch. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

close enough to a target to obtain MAHLI’s highest-possible resolution. The previous highest-resolution MAHLI images, which were pictures of Martian rocks, were at 16-17 micrometers per pixel. A micrometer, also known as a micron, is about 0.000039 inches.” Two instruments at the end of the robotic arm on NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity use the calibration targets attached to a shoulder joint of the arm.

Looking into the future, if we survive, someday this very penny will be retrieved and placed in a museum for all the world to see, and remember the primitive first steps mankind took into our solar system. Interesting to ponder what the past has held for this little coin and what the future holds.

About the author

Recipient of many prestigious NASA Awards including the Exceptional Public Service Medal and the Robert H. Goddard award. Experience includes working for NASA, as a contractor, in satellite design, construction and operations. Expert in the satellite operations concepts and ground systems including command, control, and science data processing.