Niue Island: “Mars,” third coin in ultra-high-relief Solar System series, now available

The Valles Marineris canyon system on Mars, as seen from the Viking Orbiter 2,500 km above the planet. Mars gets its red color from the iron oxide—literally, rust—on its surface. (Background photo by NASA)

Fans of space- and astronomy-themed coins will find much to like with the latest issue from Niue Island’s Solar System coin series. Struck by the Mint of Poland for Niue, “Mars” is a domed silver coin that replicates the surface of the famous red planet, and bears a piece of meteorite NWA 7397.

The original, 2.1-kilogram meteorite was found near Smara, Morocco, and purchased in June 2012 by Darryl Pitt and David Gheesling. Its incredible journey from Mars began billions of years ago, as part of a rock formation developing within the planet. At some unknown point later, an asteroid or comet struck Mars with enough force to blast surface debris into space, where it became part of the interplanetary rubble that occasionally falls into the gravitational pull of another planet—in this case, Earth. More than 61,000 meteorites have been found on our planet so far; more than 130 of them have been identified as having the same elemental composition as material on Mars.

One similar meteorite, NWA 7034, is nicknamed “Black Beauty” and was found in Morocco in 2011. (It was purchased by Jay Piatek and a slice of it was donated to the University of New Mexico.) Black Beauty is thought to be the second-oldest Martian meteorite known. Both it and NWA 7397 (the source of the material for the coins) are among the meteorites from Northwest Africa that have been approved by the Meteorological Society. (Click the link to go to the society’s page on NWA 7397.)

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The legal-tender coins are struck in a domed format suggesting the curve of the planet; the planet’s surface is depicted with ultra-high-relief craters and enhanced with a special antique finish containing copper to replicate the planet’s color. Beneath the red surface is 1 troy ounce of .999 fine silver. The concave (cupped) obverse bears a reduced-size portrait of HM Queen Elizabeth II, as designed by Ian Rank-Broadley. The portrait is off-center to the left and is surrounded by the legends ELIZABETH II above, NIUE ISLAND 2017 below, and Ag999 to the right. At the bottom of the coin is the denomination, ONE DOLLAR.

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The convex (domed) reverse depicts the Valles Marineris canyon system of Mars, which is over 2,000 kilometers long and up to 8 kilometers deep. The ancient piece of meteorite is set into the largest part of the canyon. The words SOLAR SYSTEM–MARS are placed at the top of the field, so as not to obstruct the detailed view of the surface.

Denom. Composition Weight Diameter Quality/Finish Mintage
$1 (NA) .999 silver 31.1 g 38.61 mm Ultra high relief, antiqued copper, with meteorite 686

Each coin is housed in a wooden box with color outer packaging and certificate of authenticity. “Mars” is available from World Mint News Blog sponsor First Coin and other retailers.   ❑

Click here for more information on Martian meteorites. 


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Comments

  1. Koichi Ito says

    How we know that Niue Island Mars meteorite on silver coin is the real meteorite from Mars? If so what is price of meteorite?

  2. World Mint News Blog says

    That’s an excellent question, Koichi Ito. As the blog editor, my response is this: By including a certificate of authenticity, Niue and Mint of Poland are putting their reputations on the line with these coins. If someone proves their meteorite fragment is not real, or that it is real but is not from NWA 7397, people will no longer trust products from Niue Island or the Mint of Poland, and that will hurt them financially. I will look for some more details about the C of A and let you know what I find out.

    As for the cost of the Mars meteorites, 21-millimeter pieces from other specimens go for about $25 on the website of the Meteorite Market (http://www.meteoritemarket.com/TSS.htm). I’m not sure what size the pieces on the coin are, but since the coin is 38.61 millimeters, the meteorite seems to be about 4 mm. The site also sells pieces of NWA 7397 (http://www.meteoritemarket.com/NWA7397.htm). However, these pieces are much larger than the ones on the coins, so they are naturally priced higher.

    Thanks for your question!

    Diana Plattner
    Social-Media Editor
    Coin Update, Mint News Blog, World Mint News Blog

  3. World Mint News Blog says

    I spoke with First Coin Company, and they confirmed that the meteorite information is included in the certificate of authenticity. Hope that helps!

  4. Koichi Ito says

    If this was real Martian meteorite on this coin. I believe that this coin will be sold out very quickly and price of the coin will at least double or triple very soon.

  5. Koichi Ito says

    What is next for Niue Island ” Solar System” meteorite silver coin series? Earth or Venus?

  6. World Mint News Blog says

    I haven’t found any information about the future of the series, but the options for a new coin are very limited. Meteorites are mostly from asteroids rather than planets, and the only planetary meteorites that have been discovered are from Mars, Mercury, and the moon (of course, the latter would technically be called a lunar meteorite, not a planetary one).

    What I’ve read suggests that meteorites from Venus would not reach Earth because Venus is so much closer to the sun, whose massive gravity would pull any debris in its direction and away from Earth. And all the planets beyond Mars also have stronger gravity than Earth, so debris would tend to be caught in their fields of gravity and never make it here.

    It’s possible that the series could include an Earth coin with an asteroid meteorite, or else an asteroid-themed coin with an asteroid meteorite.

    Alternatively, if any planetary meteorites have been brought back from the moon and they’re available for purchase, that would be an interesting option. Imagine a moon coin with a meteorite that came from Earth!

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