You may have heard of the August landing on Mars of NASA’s rover named Curiosity. The rover will look for signs that Mars may once have been habitable by Martian germs. In the rover’s incredible lineup of instruments, it boasts 17 cameras in different positions on the rover. Of those cameras, there is one that allows for some pretty creative angles: the Mars Hand Lens Imager, or MAHLI, for short. Its scientific purpose is to do extreme close-ups of rocks to look at the fine texture. Since MAHLI is stuck at the end of a moveable robotic arm, engineers also use it to image different parts of the rover, and that’s where “oh-my-goodness-I-feel-like-I’m-on-Mars” pictures like this come from:

Three of Curiosity’s wheels rolling through the dirt...on Mars! The base of Mt. Sharp is in the distance. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems.

Other times, scientists need to image a calibration target kept aboard the rover. The calibration target helps them make sure the camera is recording accurate colors, sizes, and that it’s in focus. Embedded in the calibration target is an actual US penny from 1909! Just think—that penny could have been in circulation throughout two world wars, then maybe sat in someone’s coin collection for some time before finding itself glued on a spacecraft and sent hurtling toward another planet over a century after its minting. But it’s the all-too familiar inscription across its top that inspires and gives me some hope for this country when sometimes I feel we’ve misplaced our moral compass. Read for yourself in the image below.

 

In God We Trust. This 1909 penny is coated in a thin layer of red Mars dirt while perhaps inadvertently giving glory to the Creator. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems.

 

The name of God is sitting on Mars, as is the claim that some of us trust in Him. The consequence of trusting God is hope, and with that I leave you with this quote from Paul in his letter to the Roman churches: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13, NIV-1984, emphasis mine).