NASA’s Perseverance Rover has been the centre of attention lately after it successfully landed on Mars last week. NASA since released video footage of the rover’s heroic landing which revealed a secret message hidden within the Perseverance’s landing parachute.
NASA’s hidden message
Allen Chen, the Entry, Descent and Landing Lead for Perseverance, first teased the hidden message in a press conference.
“Sometimes we leave messages in our work for others to find for that purpose, so we invite you all to give it shot and show your work.”
Viewers then noticed that the rover’s parachute seemed to have an unusual pattern of red and white lines. The internet did what it does best and quickly cracked the code.
It looks like the internet has cracked the code in something like 6 hours! Oh internet is there anything you can’t do? For those who just want to know: #Mars2020 #CountdownToMars pic.twitter.com/yTJCEnbuLY
— Adam Steltzner (@steltzner) February 23, 2021
The colours translate to binary computer code, red indicating a ‘1’ and white representing ‘0’. Each of the concentric rings spells out a different word resulting in the phrase “Dare Mighty Things”.
The letters and numbers in the outer ring represent latitude and longitude coordinates for the Jet Propulsion Lab, where a lot of the work on Perseverance was done.
‘Dare Mighty Things’ is a common mantra for NASA and is displayed throughout the Jet Propulsion Lab.
looks like "dare mighty things" is the parachute code from the @NASAJPL perseverance rover
the phrase is on signs all around JPL (e.g. the EDL War Room)
redditor, /u/rdtwt1, put together a python script for the solve
— adithya (@adithya_balaji) February 23, 2021
Perseverance even tweeted it. That’s how you know it’s a big deal.
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) February 19, 2021
This isn’t the only Easter egg Perseverance is carrying. NASA posted back in December that the rover is carrying at least 5 hidden gems. This includes the names of 10.9 million people who submitted to have their names “fly” to Mars, which are embedded in the rover on small computer chips.
Perseverance is also carrying a tribute to COVID-19 which impacted the tail end of the rover’s construction and testing phases. An aluminium plate on the rover’s left side displays an image of Earth supported by the Rod of Asclepius, which symbolises healing and medicine.
The Perseverance rover will now spend its days gathering rock and soil samples from Mars and monitoring the planet’s atmosphere. You can check out some of its first images here.