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NASA's Mars Perseverance rover's parachute contained a secret message

NASA rover sends video and audio from Mars
NASA's Mars Perseverance rover sends photos, video and audio from red planet 00:47

On Monday, NASA released never-before-seen videos and audio of the Perseverance rover landing on the surface of Mars. The footage contained a detailed look at the rover's parachute — and savvy space enthusiasts soon uncovered a hidden message written on it. 

The parachute may have appeared to feature a purely decorative red and white pattern on it, but after scientists hinted at the secret message, those who are familiar with binary code uncovered it within a matter of hours. 

NASA scientists hid the phrase "Dare mighty things" in the parachute's pattern, with parts of the pattern representing different numbers. It's a popular slogan of the Perseverance team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 

The outer rings of the pattern also feature GPS coordinates for JPL's offices in Pasadena, California: 34°11'58" N 118°10'31" W.  

"In addition to enabling incredible science, we hope our efforts in our engineering can inspire others," Allen Chen, the entry, descent and landing lead for the mission, said during a news briefing Monday. "Sometimes we leave messages in our work for others to find for that purpose, so we invite you all to give it a shot and show your work."

Chief Perseverance Engineer Adam Steltzner confirmed the message late Monday night. 

The slogan is just one of many Easter eggs hidden aboard the rover, which also carries microchips stenciled with nearly 11 million names of space enthusiasts and the phrase, "Explore as one." 

It also carries a COVID-19 memorial, in the form of an aluminum plate with an image of Earth supported by the Rod of Asclepius, an ancient Greek symbol for healing and medicine. 

NASA has a history of including hidden messages on its rovers

The Curiosity rover, which arrived at the red planet in 2012, has tiny holes in its wheels that read "JPL" in Morse code. So, when Curiosity traveled across Mars' surface, it stamped "JPL" into the soil wherever it went — erased shortly after by harsh Martian winds. 

"These kinds of embellishments add artistic elements on missions that are otherwise solely dominated by science and technology, as well as lasting tributes to colleagues who have helped pave the way for humanity's exploration of space," said Jim Bell of Arizona State University, who has helped festoon almost all of NASA's Mars rovers, including Perseverance.

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