The Mars rover Curiosity, carried a 1909 VDB Lincoln cent hundreds of millions of miles to become the first coin to land on Mars. The penny is part of a camera calibration target that technicians use to adjust Curiosity's cameras. The photo above was taken on the 34th Martian day (or sol) of its exploration mission (also known as September 9, 2012 in this world). The coin left the Earth as an uncirculated red specimen but now has a coating of Martian dust on it. According to the press release, "The specific coin, provided by MAHLI's (Mars Hand Lens Imager) principal investigator, Ken Edgett, is a 1909 "VDB" penny. That was the first year Lincoln pennies were minted and the centennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth. The VDB refers to the initials of the coin's designer, Victor D. Brenner, which are on the reverse side. Brenner based the coin's low-relief portrait of Lincoln on a photograph taken Feb. 9, 1864, by Anthony Berger in the Washington, D.C. studio of Mathew Brady." You can click on the photo above to see a full size high resolution image.
- Press Release: Lincoln Penny on Mars in Camera's Calibration Target
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems