Curiosity went to Mars and all it got was this highres photo

first_imgNASA’s Curiosity rover has been curiously roving around Mars for a while now, slowly poking and prodding the Martian surface, transmitting images across space so we earthbound humans can experience what it’s like to wander around an alien planet. The images aren’t of a low quality either, as Curiosity has some fancy cameras on board. The most recent high quality picture we Earthlings have received from the Martian landscape is not of a Martian, but of an American penny.Donning a touristy “I went to Mars and all I got was this picture of a penny” t-shirt, Curiosity used its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) to take the shot of the penny. The coin isn’t just any old penny, at least, as it’s a 1909 Victor David Brenner penny, special for being printed in Philadelphia as the first Lincoln penny, but also because the designer’s initials “VDB” were visible on the first iterations of the coin. As you can see from the above image, the initials were soon removed (here is a higher resolution shot).Curiosity brought the penny to Mars as a calibration instrument, so the MAHLI could snap pics of the penny to prepare for photographing the Martin environment.The picture of the penny is the highest resolution image the MAHLI can capture, at 14 micrometers per pixel — the previous highest-res images were of Martina rocks, at 16 and 17 micrometers per pixel. This is significant not because we now have proof that Earth currency has infiltrated space, but because it’s the first time MAHLI has been able to take a photo at its highest resolution. The feat was achieved because this is the first time Curiosity’s robotic arm was able to put MAHLI up close enough to an object.Though MAHLI’s penny picture is high quality, it’s not the highest-res image taken on Mars, as the Phoenix Mars Lander holds that record thanks to the help of a microscope. However, that doesn’t quite count as fair, and at least MAHLI snaps photos of objects in their natural setting, rather than on a microscopic level.last_img read more

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