NASA
Red White and Red

NASA Hid a Clever Secret Message in Its Mars Rover’s Parachute

byVictor Tangermann
Feb 23
NASA

The colors are the key.

Parachute Code

The engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) managed to hide a clever message in the red and white colors of the Perseverance rover’s parachute that it used to successfully land on Mars late last week.

An incredible video uploaded by NASA showed Perseverance screaming through the thin Martian atmosphere below before opening its parachute and deploying its Skycrane to gently lower the car-sized rover to the Martian surface.

NASA teased that there was a secret message encoded in the various red and white stripes of the rover’s parachute — and luckily, French computer science student Maxence Abela and his father have now decoded it.

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Dare Mighty Things

The message reads “Dare mighty things,” a popular JPL slogan. The outer rings are the GPS coordinates of the JPL offices in Pasadena, California.

“There are four groups, each one is built from a circle, starting from the center circle,” Abela wrote in a tweet explaining JPL’s code. “Each binary number encodes a position in the alphabet, starting at 1.”

Here’s a visual explainer by Twitter user Meithan West:

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TikTok user and scientist Emily Calanderelli also took the time to distill the dense explanation into a fun video, in case you’re (understandably) confused.

It’s not the first encoded message of its kind, as CNET points out. The wheels of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover are designed to spell out “JPL” in Morse code as it makes its way across the desolate surface of Mars.

READ MORE: NASA hid secret messages in the Perseverance parachute [CNET]

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More on Perseverance: NASA Releases Incredible Panorama of Mars Rover’s Landing Site


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