NASA’s perseverance rover touched down on the surface of Mars last week, giving us the first audio recording of the mysterious red planet. But who cares about the sound of Mars when there’s a mystery to solve? Hours after the Mars rover landed, internet detectives discovered and decoded a secret message hidden in the device’s oddly-patterned parachute.
The Mars rover parachute sports a few red and white columns separated by concentric rings. After establishing that the red and white columns represent the 1s and 0s of binary code, Twitter user @FrenchTech_paf organized the numbers into groups of ten, creating a 10-bit code that’s easy to translate into alphabetical letters. From there, @FrenchTech_paf quickly uncovered the parachute’s message—“Dare Mighty Things.”
So you know how NASA sent a secret message to Mars?@FrenchTech_paf figured it out. 🙌🏼
Dare mighty things 🚀✨ pic.twitter.com/HIO2BUVjNd
— Emily Calandrelli (@TheSpaceGal) February 23, 2021
“Dare Mighty Things” is the motto used by the Perseverance team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. But it isn’t the only message hidden in the parachute! It’s outer rings, read as binary, translate to the coordinates for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory—that’s 34°11’58” N 118°10’31” W for anyone curious.
Shortly after the code was cracked, Perseverance Chief Engineer Adam Stelzner went to Twitter to confirm its existence. It’s possible that there are still secret messages hidden in the parachute, or even in the humble Perseverance Rover. The space agency is known for its use of symbolism, and NASA’s Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars in 2012, actually had the Morse code for JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) cut into its wheels as a sort of footprint.