Imager sends ultra high-res photo from Mars

October 9, 2013
This image of a U.S. penny was acquired Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) aboard NASA's Curiosity rover in northern Gale crater on Mars. At 14 micrometers per pixel, this is the highest resolution image that the MAHLI can acquire. 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.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Planetary Science Institute

(Phys.org) —An instrument aboard NASA's Curiosity rover has sent back to scientists on Earth an ultra high-resolution image of a penny the rover carried to Mars.

The coin was photographed by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) aboard Curiosity in northern Gale crater on Mars. The penny, a 1909 VDB penny minted in Philadelphia during the first year that Lincoln cents became available, is part of the MAHLI calibration target and came from Earth. The images were acquired on Oct. 2, on sol 411 – the 411th Martian day – of the mission.

"I'm so proud of how beautifully this camera has performed on Mars," said R. Aileen Yingst, Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist and deputy Principal Investigator for MAHLI. "I can't wait to apply this newly available capability to real geologic targets on our way to Mt. Sharp."

At 14 micrometers per pixel, this is the highest resolution image that the MAHLI can acquire, Yingst said. This image was obtained as part of a test; it was the first time that the rover's robotic arm placed the MAHLI close enough to a target to obtain MAHLI's highest-possible resolution. The previous highest-resolution MAHLI images, which were pictures of Martian rocks, were at 16-17 micrometers per pixel. A micrometer, also known as a micron, is about 0.000039 inches.

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project provided funding for MAHLI.

The gold medal for highest resolution photographs on Mars goes to NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander's optical microscope. As a microscope, though, fine-grained samples had to be delivered to it, whereas MAHLI can be deployed to look at geologic materials in their natural setting.

Explore further: First color image of Mars returned from Curiosity

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RadiantThoughts
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 14, 2013
Putting in god we trust on such hardware is frankly insulting. Really it should say in science, logic and reason we trust because that's what got us here. We didn't pray our way to mars on unicorn farts we did hard work in fields that fundamentalists would have us abandon in pure pursuit of religion.
jsdarkdestruction
not rated yet Oct 15, 2013
Putting in god we trust on such hardware is frankly insulting. Really it should say in science, logic and reason we trust because that's what got us here. We didn't pray our way to mars on unicorn farts we did hard work in fields that fundamentalists would have us abandon in pure pursuit of religion.

I believe in god we trust should be removed from all us coins and federal reserve notes. however in this case it couldn't be helped, the coin came that way. personally I would of preferred the 1909 vdb minted in san Francisco be sent up, its much rarer and more valuable and revered as one of the lowest mintage Lincoln cents out there.
Sonhouse
not rated yet Oct 15, 2013
What a bunch of crap. I myself am agnostic leaning towards atheism but you people are losing focus. Instead of marveling at the fact that something the size of a penny is imaged at 14 micron resolution seems to not even be crossing your mind. Perhaps you forgot that image came from Mars over 160 million kilometers away? From a not very powerful transmitter either. Why don't you wake up and smell the coffee instead of jumping on every little detail like that, as if NASA was shoving religion down your throats. Its a frigging penny for crying out loud. There are only about a billion of them in use so it's not like it was sending out some unknown message from god. You all need to get a job, live a real life.

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