Despite landing on Mars more than a week ago, Perseverance continues to reveal surprises. The latter is a hidden message that could be ‘read’ on the huge parachute that the rover used to land on Martian soil, a binary code devised by NASA systems engineer Ian Clark in which Theodore Roosevelt’s quote was hidden. “Dare Mighty Things” (something like “Dare to do great things” in Spanish). But this ‘secret’ has not gone unnoticed by the smartest Internet users, who revealed the encrypted message a few hours later on social networks. Clark used a binary code hidden in the orange and white strips of the parachute to spell out the famous phrase of the twenty-sixth president of the United States, which is also a kind of mantra for the US space agency and can be read in many of its facilities. And the message did not end there: He also entered the GPS coordinates of the mission headquarters, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
A fan of crossword puzzles, the NASA engineer came up with the idea two years ago. Those responsible wanted an unusual pattern for the nylon fabric of the largest parachute ever sent for a landing on Mars, knowing that the moment was scheduled to be recorded for the first time in history and to learn how it was oriented during the descent. “Turning it into a secret message was super fun,” Clarke said at a press conference. Before landing, only about six people were aware of plans to include a coded message on the parachute. When the first images of the moment arrived, it took space fans only a few hours to realize it. “I’ll have to be more creative next time, Clarke said. With the quote chosen, the intention was “to try to find a way to code it, but not to make it too obvious.” Additionally, the exact location three meters from the NASA JPL visitor entrance in Pasadena was chosen for the coordinates.
More secrets yet to discover
And Perseverance has even more ‘secrets’: it also includes a plaque depicting NASA’s five Mars rovers (Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity) as a ‘sticker’ worn by some family cars on Earth. Besides, from NASA they affirm that there are more hidden ‘Easter eggs’ that will be revealed in the coming days, after the first tests of filming in a couple of weeks. In the words of Assistant Project Manager Matt Wallace, “You will have to be on the lookout.
The wreckage of the landing, from the air
The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter provided important data relay services around the Perseverance landing, including supporting the return of videos and images from the mission’s onboard cameras during its descent to the surface of Mars. The orbiter will continue to provide data relay support between Earth and Mars for NASA’s surface missions, and for the upcoming ExoMars mission, which will see the arrival of the European rover Rosalind Franklin and the Russian surface platform Kazachok to the Red Planet in 2023. At the same time, the orbiter continues its scientific mission, focused on the analysis of the planet’s atmosphere, with special attention to the search for gases that may be related to active geological or biological processes.