The parachute that helped NASA’s Perseverance rover land on Mars last week unfolded to reveal a seemingly random pattern of colors in videos of the rover’s landing. But there was something else in the story: NASA officials later said it contained a hidden message written in binary computer code.
Internet abuse broke the message within hours. The red and white model writes “Dare Mighty Things” in concentric rings. The saying is the motto of the perseverance team, and is also written on the walls of the mission control at NASA̵
The outer ring of the parachute appears to translate into JPL coordinates: 34 ° 11’58 ”N 118 ° 10’31” W.
Alan Chen, the host of the Persistence’s entry, disembarkation and landing, dared the public to understand the announcement during a press conference on Monday. “Apart from providing an amazing science opportunity, we hope that our efforts in our engineering can inspire others,” he said.
“Sometimes we leave messages in our work so that others can find them for that purpose, so we invite you all to try and show your work.”
Adam Stelzner, Perseverance’s chief engineer, confirmed the message late Monday night on Twitter.
The Dare Mighty Things message was not the only oddity of perseverance brought to Mars. The magnification of one of several thousand images released by NASA from the rover this week shows a small family portrait of past rovers Mars, Persistence and Helicopter Ingenuity accompanying the Persistence of Mars.
NASA has included hidden messages on its rovers in the past. The rover Curiosity, which landed on the Red Planet in 2012, had small holes dotted in its hollow aluminum wheels to allow the pebbles on Mars caught inside to escape.
These holes read “JPL” in the Morse code. So when Curiosity circled the surface, the JPL was sealed in Morse code on Martian soil (although it was erased shortly after the Martian wind).
Chen said On the edge that the permanence engineers may have dropped more hidden messages on the rover outside the Dare Mighty Things code in their parachute.
“People can’t resist putting a little personal touch into their work,” Chen said. “But most of them will never be known – not even by me.”