Image of the Day: Lincoln on Mars, 411 days later

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Planetary Science Institute

The Curiosity rover on Mars uses a 1909 Lincon penny as a camera calibration target. After 114 years, it's remarkable that this penny is even in one piece, but look what a mere 411 days on the red planet has done. Dust yourself off, Abe!

Why a 1909 penny? Curiosity was originally supposed to launch in 2009, which would have been the bicentennial of Lincon's birth. And by the time the launch was delayed, the calibration target had already been put together and delivered to NASA and it was too late to change anything around. The reason that a penny was chosen in the first place is two-fold: it's easy for Joe Q. Public to recognize and identify with, and it's also a nod and a wink to geologists, who use whatever they happen to have in their pockets (pennies, makes sense) to provide a measurement of scale when they take pictures of interesting rocks.

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PSI, via io9

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