|A 'State' of Exploration||
Image above: Florida's "Gateway to Discovery" state quarter ready for flight on New Horizons. Image credit: NASA/Bill Rogers, JHU/APL
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NASA is poised to launch the first spacecraft to distant Pluto and its moon, Charon. New Horizons will travel the expanse of the solar system to unknown frontiers. And along with its seven scientific instruments, the spacecraft will carry a new Florida quarter, engraved with the "Gateway to Discovery" design, on the 3-billion-mile journey.
The quarter was deftly mounted to the New Horizons spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center's Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility. While it seemed fitting for the mission to include the coin from the state that symbolizes space exploration, it will also serve a purpose: scientists are using the quarter as a spin-balance weight on the mission.
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center