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'Penny' starts my thoughts

I had lunch with former Krause Publications colleagues Clifford Mishler and Fred Borgmann yesterday at the Crystal Cafe here in Iola, Wis.

At the table, Clifford slid a clipping from USA Today my way that reports on the scheduled Aug. 6 landing of the Mars rover Curiosity.

He thought I would be interested because one little tidbit of information related to coinage.

The rover has what is called the Mars Hand Lens Imager instrument. To properly focus it, aboard is a 1909 cent.

The photograph showed a well preserved cent. Though from a tiny photo on newsprint, it could be anywhere from AU-58 to MS-65. It was hard to judge.

I have to admit I have not been paying attention to the new rover mission.

There is something sad about the necessity of needing a coin aboard a spacecraft to Mars to garner my attention.

I read Ray Bradbury when I was a kid, including the Martian Chronicles. When I was even younger I had read the many adventures of Tom Corbett, space cadet. I watched space launches from John Glenn in 1962 to the landing on the moon July 20, 1969.

Space then began a long slide down the ladder of my interests. Where it rates now exactly I cannot even say.

I checked out the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology website. While marveling at how much information is at our fingertips nowadays, I felt another pang of sadness that even on this website there has to be a button for kids labeled “Fun.”

How far we have come from the days when I would have considered any information about space to be fun.

Fortunately for me, my interest in all things numismatic has not diminished over the years. I guess that makes me a numismatic rover.