NASA leaves hidden message on parachute of Mars rover


Newbie puzzle followers delighted this week when NASA revealed it had hidden a secret color-coded message on the parachute for the Perseverance rover that landed on Mars final week.

The message, written by methods engineer Ian Clark in binary code by way of alternating white and orange strips on the 70-foot chute, spelled out the NASA motto “Dare Mighty Issues,” which comes from a Theodore Roosevelt quote.

Clark, the lead developer of the parachute, had an fascinating drawback in encoding the message – he couldn’t use any colours that had not already been examined for Mars’ ambiance. Completely different colour dyes would possibly weaken its integrity inside its harsh surroundings.

“There’s every kind of second-guessing questions,” Clark mentioned, in keeping with The New York Occasions. “Like might having extra white than orange, or vice versa, imply that the parachute was going to heat up otherwise and perhaps that may change its conduct?”

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Clark mentioned when he requested deputy undertaking supervisor Matt Wallace if he might put a message within the parachute, his solely steering was to “be sure that it was acceptable and couldn’t be misinterpreted.”

Solely about six folks knew concerning the encoded message earlier than final Thursday’s touchdown, Clark, a crossword puzzle fanatic, who referred to as creating the message “tremendous enjoyable,” mentioned.

He mentioned it solely took puzzle solvers just a few hours to determine the binary-coded missive after it was teased throughout Monday’s information convention.

“I’ll need to be just a little bit extra inventive” subsequent time, he mentioned.

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Clark additionally included the GPS coordinates of the mission’s headquarters on the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, within the message – “34°11’58″ N 118°10’31.”

In the course of the information convention, engineer Allen Chen, who was accountable for the touchdown system, instructed area followers “Generally we depart messages in our work for others to seek out for that function. So we invite you all to provide it a shot and present your work.”

Alternating black and white – or orange and white on this case – is usually a touch that one thing is in binary code, giving fans their first clue.

Finally web detectives realized the sequence of ones and zeros match into teams of 10 and spelled out the inspirational message on the parachute’s three inside rings, in keeping with The Occasions. 

Inside hours, IT pupil Maxence Abela posted his reply on Twitter. He and his father had been amongst others who had been in a position to resolve the thriller. 

“It appears just like the web has cracked the code in one thing like 6 hours!” Adam Steltzner, chief engineer for the mission, tweeted, exhibiting a graph of the reply.

A message was additionally written on a plaque that might be used to calibrate a digicam on the rover, in keeping with The Occasions

It says, “Are we alone? We got here right here to search for indicators of life, and to gather samples of Mars for examine on Earth. To those that comply with, we want a secure journey and the enjoyment of discovery.”

The plaque additionally consists of depictions of all 5 of NASA’s Mars rovers in growing measurement over time.

And Wallace has promised extra Easter eggs related to the rover.

He mentioned they need to be seen as soon as Perseverance’s seven-foot arm is deployed in just a few days and begins photographing beneath the automobile, and once more when the rover is driving in a pair weeks.

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“Positively, positively ought to hold a great lookout,” he urged.

The Related Press contributed to this report.

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