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NASAs hidden secret codes in their Mars rover, Perseverance5 min read

April 8, 2021 4 min read

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NASAs hidden secret codes in their Mars rover, Perseverance5 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Can you crack it?

Did that read the writing on the parachute in the video? No? watch it again.

chris smith what GIF by The Internet

Still no? Well, that’s because there was something there for you to read, but no letters for you to view. Wait, what!?! 

Kristen Wiig What Sticker by swerk

Yup, the message was encoded. The parachute that helped the Perseverance rover land on Mars had a secret code hidden in it, and anyone in the world is free to crack it. The code is in Binary. Are you familiar with Binary? Go back to the video and give it another shot. 

Landing Jet Propulsion Laboratory GIF by NASA
Image: GIPHY x NASA

Binary What?

programming coding Sticker by top(node)

There’s a code in that parachute, and it’s written in Binary. Binary code is a system of just two numbers: 0 and 1. The way the numbers are placed, as well as the number of numbers present, dictate what the code is trying to say. For instance, the number 2 is 1-0 in Binary, while the number 3 is 1-1. You can use all sorts of symbols to represent the 0s and 1s. On Perseverance’s parachute, the 1s and 0s have been depicted using the orange and white blocks that you see. Now that you know what Binary is, do you want to give cracking the secret code a shot? Here’s a hint: The orange patches represent 1s, and the white patches represent 0s.

Be brave!

By this point, you’ve either cracked the code or realised you’re not too big on Binary. Fill in this cryptogram to finally reveal the encoded message or simply show off your ginormous brains:

So what’s this code all about?

Well, honestly, it’s just a bit of fun. Matt Wallace, the deputy director behind the project that sent the Perseverance rover to Mars, decided that adding this element to the parachute would simply make it more engaging. Since Perseverance is laden with video cameras, Wallace kept the message a secret until the Mars Rover actually touched down. Then, NASA shared live footage of the landing with the world, and with it, they shared this, hidden-in-plain-sight, puzzle for the world.

Netizens decode message hidden in NASA's Perseverance rover's parachute |  NewsBytes
The code, decoded. Image:NewsBytes

He planted this particular message as it belonged to a speech that was delivered by America’s former President, Theodore Roosevelt, in 1988.

Theodore Roosevelt - HISTORY
Theodore Roosevelt. Image: History.com

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

Theodore Roosevelt, 1988

The phrase ‘dare mighty things’ is splashed all over NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Perseverance rover to which this parachute belongs was built and is operated there. Well, it is no doubt that sending a rover to search for life on Mars is a mighty task!

Owliver’s Obscure Observation:

The orange that you see on the parachute was the only acceptable colour that could be used to encode this message. That is because every single dye has a different weight and impacts the fabric differently. Slight changes in the fabric’s weight or behaviour could ruin the rover’s landing, as everything is decided based on precise mathematical calculations. The slightest shift in the numbers could deem the entire two billion dollar project a failure. Imagine that, for just a bit of fun!

We, at Owliver’s Post, have been following the Perseverance Rover for quite a while, click on these pictures to know more:

The first helicopter that took flight on Mars.
Watch Perseverance touch down on Mars.
Meet the Indian-American who sent Perseverance to Mars.

With Excerpts From: CNN, NASA, NASA, The Hindu, The New York Times and CBS.

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