Why NASA’s ‘Secret Code’ In The Perseverance Rover’s Supersonic Parachute Is Just The Start

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NASA’s Perseverance rover landed safely on Mars on on February 18, 2021—and because it did so it displayed a particular message.

In probably the most visually impactful components of the unimaginable video of its dramatic touchdown on Mars was the unfurling of the rover’s purple and orange parachute, which NASA has simply revealed shows binary code that reads:

“Dare Mighty Things.”

What does that imply, the place does it come from (clue: it was stated by a politician in 1899)and why did NASA go to the difficulty of sending a message to Mars?

The parachute’s code truly says extra than simply that three-word phrase—and on the rover can also be a motto, 7 iconic photos, 155 essays and 10.9 million names.

This is just not the primary time NASA has despatched “secret” messages to Mars.

Here’s every thing you could know:

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Why did Perseverance want a supersonic parachute?

NASA’s Perseverance rover received into the Martian environment in a protecting again shell that was outfitted with a 70.5 ft/21.5 meters diameter parachute.

As it unfurled 7 miles/11 kilometers above Jezero Crater, to slowdown the spacecraft from 940 mph/1,512 kph, a parachute-up-look digital camera snapped some photos.

What was written on Perseverance’s parachute?

Two messages had been encoded in binary in an orange-and-white sample on the parachute’s gores, one on the outer ring and one in a spiral on the interior ring:

Inner ring: “Dare Mighty Things,” with every phrase by itself ring of gores.

Outer ring: The GPS coordinates (34°11’58” N 118°10’31” W) for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the place the rover was constructed and the challenge is managed.

Here’s the decoded model from NASA:

And right here’s what the parachute was anticipated to seem like. This picture additionally provides you a greater sense of scale of Perseverance’s supersonic parachute:

What ‘Dare Mighty Things’ means and why NASA encoded it on the parachute

“Dare Mighty Things” is the motto of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in La Cañada Flintridge, California, the middle for the robotic exploration of the Solar System.

The phrase comes from a famous speech by Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, New York Governor, in Chicago on April 10, 1899 by which he argued that strenuous effort and overcoming hardship had been what Americans should embrace:

“Thrice happy is the nation that has a glorious history. Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure … than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

The binary code sample on the supersonic parachute was designed by Ian Clark, Mars 2020 Perseverance Systems Engineer at JPL.

More messages on Perseverance

It doesn’t cease there. To take correct shade on Mars, the rover’s wide-angle Mastcam-Z cameras must calibrate, so on the rover’s deck is a pair of small color-reference targets. Called “cal targets” (pictured above) they assist Perseverance’s digital camera system get the colours of Mars precisely proper in pictures.

However, in between the colour and grayscale patches are seven small icons:

  1. Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars orbiting the Sun.
  2. A DNA strand.
  3. Cyanobacteria (early microorganisms on Earth).
  4. A fern (symbolizing inexperienced vegetation).
  5. A dinosaur.
  6. Two waving people (which recollects the plaques on NASA’s Pioneer and encoded on NASA’s Voyager Golden Records).
  7. An area rocket.

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The cal goal additionally has a motto, “Two Worlds, One Beginning.” NASA’s earlier rover, Curiosity, has one which reads “To Mars To Explore” whereas its older Spirit and Opportunity rovers each had “Two Worlds, One Sun.”

So this isn’t the primary time that NASA has baked-in coded messages to its Martian {hardware}.

Yet NASA’s most up-to-date rover, Curiosity, has been leaving messages actually on the Martian floor for nearly a decade …

The ‘secret message’ on NASA’s Curiosity rover

When NASA’s Curiosity rover landed in Gale Crater on August 6, 2012, it too took a message to Mars. In its observe marks, seen above as straight bands throughout the zigzag observe marks, is a repeating sample that reads “JPL.”

The Morse code is: .—- (J), .—. (P), and .-.. (L), which is imprinted on all six wheels.

It’s not simply there for enjoyable. The Curiosity rover makes use of photos of the repeating sample to find out precisely how far it has traveled and permits it to verify that there’s been no wheel slippage.

Perseverance can also be carrying 10.9 million names

Both of NASA’s most up-to-date rovers additionally carry tens of millions of names on microchips—from “Send Your Name To Mars” PR campaigns—with Curiosity storing 1.2 million names and Perseverance carrying 10.9 million.

Also on its tiny microchip are 155 essays from the finalists in NASA’s “Name the Rover” essay contest.

The newest from the Perseverance rover

Since the touchdown the rover has despatched again hundreds of images from a zoomable pair of cameras referred to as Mastcam-Z, 142 of which had been used to stay collectively a 360º panorama. It’s so extremely detailed that it’s doable to get close-ups of rock options seen within the distance.

Expect many extra images from Perseverance to be posted by NASA within the coming weeks, months and years because the rover searches the traditional lake-bed for indicators of historical life. It will even gather samples of rock and soil for doable return to Earth within the 2030s.

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Perseverance can also be carrying a small Mars Helicopter, also referred to as Ingenuity, which anticipated to take its first powered flight shortly.

Wishing you clear skies and huge eyes.

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