If there’s one thing NASA is known for, it’s attention to detail. Sometimes that translates into absurdly good equipment, like when the Opportunity rover explored Mars for more than 5,000 sols when it was designed to last only 90, and sometimes it translates into bored engineers leaving secret messages on everything. With NASA’s latest rover – Perseverance – we hope that the first will prove true, and we know that the second already has.
In a Monday press conference, a NASA official hinted to the public that the colored patterns in Perseverance’s parachute, visible from the rover’s landing camera, could actually be decoded to reveal a secret message. Of course, the internet being what it is, within hours posts started popping up explaining that the colors visible on the parachute were a radial code that could be translated into binary and from there into English.
To be honest, I have no understanding of how the code works or how they figured it out, but if my sources are correct it reads “dare mighty things,” the motto of the Perseverance team and the unofficial slogan of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Does this have any scientific import? No. Nevertheless, as someone who loves both watching engineers come up with overly elaborate solutions and hopeful messages, see my review of The Martian, I can’t help but see it as fitting that when humanity goes out to visit other worlds, cheesy inspirational quotes follow close behind.