The parachute that assisted NASA's Perseverance rover land on Mars last week ballooned open with two secret messages hidden within. What looked like a random sequence of orangey-red and white colors were, in fact, two hidden messages written in binary computer code.
It took space fans just a few hours to crack the code that was created by a puzzle lover on the spacecraft's team. Systems engineer, Ian Clark, had hidden the simple yet perfect message of "Dare Mighty Things" into the 70-foot (21-meter) parachute's inner concentric rings.
The saying is JPL's motto, which derives from a speech by former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt.
There was also a second secret message embedded in the outer ring of the parachute — JPL's coordinates in California, where the Perseverance rover was built and the project is managed.
Clark, a crossword hobbyist, came up with the idea of a secret message two years ago, which he described as "super fun." The team wanted to have a pattern placed on the parachute to know how it was oriented during its descent. What better way to do so than with an embedded secret message?
Apparently, only six people knew about the hidden message until the news was uncovered, which was confirmed on Monday as Adam Steltnzer, Perseverance's chief engineer, posted on Twitter, which was followed by a NASA news release on Tuesday.
Not only does the Perseverance rover have a funky parachute, but it also has a small "family portrait" of all the Mars rovers. You could compare it to a car bumper sticker of a stick family. The plaque can be seen when scrutinizing some of the thousands of images NASA shared from Perseverance's initial Mars images.
Seems like we can expect to find more hidden messages on the Mars Perseverance rover — we can't wait to find out!