Penny For Your Martian Thoughts: This Is How A Coin Looks After 14 Months On The Red Planet


A high-power camera on the Mars Curiosity rover snapped a picture of a 1909 American penny featuring Abraham Lincoln. The coin is used as a calibration target for the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) that is at the end of Curiosity’s robotic arm. In just over an Earth year on the Red Planet, you can see the bright copper is muted by lots of Mars dust…“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.

via Penny For Your Martian Thoughts: This Is How A Coin Looks After 14 Months On The Red Planet.

I wrote about this in February 2012. There’s something to be said for electrostatic forces. You would think with vertical mounting and the jostling as the rover travels that there wouldn’t be this much dust on the penny.

We’re going to have to be smarter when humans go to Mars, especially with moving parts that can get worn down or with environmental seals. That much dust would cause some problems.

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4 responses to “Penny For Your Martian Thoughts: This Is How A Coin Looks After 14 Months On The Red Planet

  1. IIRC, one of the things that really surprised Armstrong and Aldrin was just how much dust they tracked into the LEM.

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  2. With the advancements in 3D printing, and the soon-to-be built 3D metal printers (important patents expire in 2014) spare parts will be easier to make on site than to have them shipped from Earth.

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    • Chaplain, I’ve done some work with 3-D printing, including titanium, going back to 2006. Also using the regolith in lieu of material from Earth for concrete, shielding, etc.

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    • NaCly Dog

      Roamy, is the dust accretion due to Van der Waals attraction?

      Are we lined up with catalysts that generate O₂ from the typical martian soil?

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