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NASA Reveals Inspiring Message Hidden on Mars Rover Parachute (and More Easter Eggs Are Coming!)

Morgan Smith
·3-min read

NASA/UPI/Shutterstock

A puzzle lover on NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover team has hidden a special message on the spacecraft's parachute for viewers tuning into the historic mission from home.

NASA Systems Engineer Ian Clark used binary code to spell out "Dare Mighty Things" on the rover's orange and white striped parachute, the Associated Press reported.

NASA/AP/Shutterstock

On Thursday, the unmanned rover — which launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on July 30, inside the United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket — landed at 3:55 p.m. ET on the Jezero Crater, an area scientists previously said they believe could have been a "possible oasis in [the planet's] distant past."

The milestone — which was made possible by a decade of work by hundreds of experts — is the first time video captured a spacecraft landing on Mars, thanks to cameras and mics on the rover.

RELATED: Touch Down! Mars Rover Perseverance Lands for Historic Mission to Collect Signs of Ancient Life

"Dare Mighty Things" is a quote from Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, and part of an 1899 speech he gave to a crowd in Chicago. The phrase is written on many of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's walls.

Clark — a fan of crossword puzzles — told the AP he came up with the idea two years ago. NASA engineers wanted to include an unusual pattern on the parachute's fabric so they could see how the rover was positioned during its descent. Clark said it was "super fun" turning the pattern into a secret message.

NASA/JPL-Caltech Mars Perseverance rover

The GPS coordinates for the mission's headquarters at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California are also on the parachute.

Only a few people knew about the surprise before last week's historic landing, according to the AP. NASA waited until the parachute images were developed before teasing the hidden message during a news conference Monday.

Viewers cracked the code within a few hours. "I'll have to be a little more creative [next time]," Clark said to the AP.

Another special detail on NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover: the spacecraft has a plaque etched on its side of all five of NASA's Mars rovers.

RELATED: NASA Shares First-of-Its-Kind Video of Perseverance Rover's Touchdown on Mars from Multiple Angles

Matt Wallace, NASA's Mars 2020 Project Director, said there will be more "Easter eggs" for vigilant space fans during the mission that should become visible once the rover's 7-foot arm starts photographing under the vehicle and driving on Mars' surface in the coming days and weeks, the AP reported.

"Definitely, definitely, [they] should keep a good lookout," he said, according to the AP.

Over its mission time of one Mars year (which translates to about 687 Earth days), the Perseverance — NASA's ninth mission to land on Mars — will collect rock and soil samples in the hopes of finding evidence of ancient life on Earth's closest neighboring planet.

The goals for the Mars endeavor are to also explore and analyze the geology of the planet's environment to "assess ancient habitability." Another desired outcome is to "demonstrate technology for future robotic and human exploration" to the planet, scientists said in a June press release.