The most valuable penny in the universe: Unique century-old coin which is helping Curiosity explore the surface of Mars

By Daily Mail Reporter

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This amazing picture shows the most valuable penny in the universe - a unique coin which is currently on Mars, helping NASA's Curiosity rover explore the surface of the red planet.

The century-old penny joined the rover on its $2.5billion ride out of the atmosphere, landing on Mars at the beginning of August.

But the coin, one of the first batch of Lincoln pennies ever minted, has more than a symbolic value - it is a tool to help scientists calibrate the cameras currently sending an amazing series of images back to Earth.

Unique: This penny is attached to the Curiosity rover, helping it calibrate its hi-tech cameras

Unique: This penny is attached to the Curiosity rover, helping it calibrate its hi-tech cameras

If you calculate the share of the voyage's cost which is attributable to the 2.5-gram penny, it comes out at $7,000, according to Gizmodo.

The coin is part of the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera, pictures of which have recently been beamed back from Mars.

 

Pennies are traditionally used by geologists to provide a sense of scale in their pictures.

Even though Curiosity has other, more sophisticated calibrators, NASA has still included the penny in homage to the scientific custom.

Equipment: This picture, taken on the surface of Mars, shows the outside of the MAHLI camera

Equipment: This picture, taken on the surface of Mars, shows the outside of the MAHLI camera

And this penny is not just any coin - it was minted in 1909, when the Lincoln design was first instituted on the 100th anniversary of the Great Emancipator.

The coin is a 'VDB cent', marked with the initials of its designer Victor David Brenner.

It was bought for Curiosity by MAHLI engineer Ken Edgett, who personally donated it to the Mars mission.

New images taken by NASA's HiRise spacecraft reveal exactly how far the rover has driven on the red planet.

Tyre tracks are clearly visible, as well as the areas where Curiosity landed.

Engineers plan to use the images to track Curiosity as it moves across the surface of Mars.

Tracks: NASA has released images of Curiosity setting off from its landing site across the red planet

Tracks: NASA has released images of Curiosity setting off from its landing site across the red planet

NASA has announced that Curiosity recently completed its longest drive yet, after travelling more than 100 feet on 4 September.

Other new images also reveal the final resting places of the comlex kit that brought Curiosity to the surface.

The high-tech craft hit the top of the Martian atmosphere at 13,000mph, and was then slowly lowered by a radical floating 'sky crane' before gently arriving in a massive crater.

Operators have now photographed the sky crane's final landing site in colour, and also found the parachute and backplate from the landing, which was dubbed 'seven minutes of terror' due to its complexity.

 

The comments below have not been moderated.

zoom in and have a look at the logo above the coin, that's where the real truth is

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"Pennies" - cos the Americans miss their former colonial masters. Do you want us back?

Click to rate     Rating   1

The coin is valuable on its own. Why use a this rather than a new penny worth one cent? More government waste!

Click to rate     Rating   17

Wow this is really interesting actually. And since my user name is Pearla from the Moon, I wish I could own Penny from Mars lol!

Click to rate     Rating   12

Century-old penny? The year looks like it says 1959.

Click to rate     Rating   29

That is so cool. Just reading about how the camera was lowered and got there. Humans can really be clever. Exploring space is such a wonder.

Click to rate     Rating   35

They're not saying it's valuable because of how old it is. They're saying it's valuable because it was the only one sent up in the Mars rover.

Click to rate     Rating   31

A 1909 VDB penny is NOT the most valuable in the universe. The 1909 S VDB is rarer and worth MUCH more. More HACK reporting by DM's 3rd grad dropouts. Pathetic! Sickening. - Pablo-USA1 , Sylvania, United States, 08/9/2012 03:43 >>> So there's less than 1 of these coins you talk of and would cost a few billion to go and collect? In 200 years time when this penny is recovered IT WILL be the most valuable penny if ever offered for sale.

Click to rate     Rating   37

I had one of them penny's. But I spent it!

Click to rate     Rating   6

Very interesting article - well done - no celebities involved or violent crime.

Click to rate     Rating   90

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