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A Red Cent on a Red Planet: Curiosity’s 1909 Lincoln Penny

Curiosity’s calibration target, imaged with MAHLI on March 9, 2017 (mission sol 1632). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.

On March 9, 2017, NASA’s Curiosity rover took this picture with its turret-mounted MAHLI camera of the calibration target installed near the “shoulder” of its robotic arm. In addition to color chips and a metric line graph, the target also includes a U.S. coin: a 1909 Lincoln penny, adhered heads-up.

Curiosity’s coin isn’t just for good luck though; it’s also a nod to geologists who typically use familiar objects in field photos to help determine scale. (Curiosity is, after all, one of only two working robot geologists on all of Mars!)

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Happy First Year on Mars, Curiosity!

A "selfie" of Curiosity made from images acquired with its MAHLI instrument in April and May (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

A “selfie” of Curiosity made from images acquired with its MAHLI instrument in April and May (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS). Click here for a full-res version

Sol 669 is here (well, there… on Mars that is…) and that marks the one full year anniversary of Curiosity’s mission exploring Gale Crater! Wait, you say, didn’t Curiosity land on Mars in August of 2012? Shouldn’t we still be approaching the TWO-year anniversary of the MSL mission? Well, yes, here on Earth, but on Mars a year is 1.8808 Earth-years long — that’s 686.9 Earth days to a single Martian year! So from landing day August 5 (August 6 UTC) 2012, 686.9 days Earth days (i.e., one Martian year) later is June 24, 2014 (which it is at the time of this writing, UTC) and thus:

Happy Mars Anniversary, Curiosity!


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New MSL pic of “shiny thing” shows it’s totally a piece of plastic

High-res MAHLI image of the object spotted on Mars (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Detail crop (sharpened)

Remember that curious object spotted on Mars a few days ago by Curiosity? After JPL researchers determined it was likely a piece of plastic wrap from a cable that shook loose during the landing sequence, the rover took this shot with its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) instrument on 10/12.

I’m no scientist, but yeah… it’s totally a piece of plastic.

Keep calm and carry on, Curiosity!

Follow the ongoing Mars exploration missions here.

Curiosity Spots an Unidentified Object on Mars

Is this the smallest UFO ever?

While scooping its first samples of Martian soil NASA’s Curiosity rover captured the image above, which shows what seems to be a small, seemingly metallic sliver or chip of… something… resting on the ground. Is it a piece of the rover? Or some other discarded fleck of the MSL descent mechanisms? Or perhaps an exotic Martian pebble of some sort? Nobody knows for sure yet, but it may just be the smallest UFO ever recorded (that’d be Unidentified Fallen Object…)

Read more here.

UPDATE: the object has been tentatively identified as a bit of plastic originating from the rover itself. Read more.

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