Mars landing: Space enthusiasts reveal hidden message on NASA Perseverance rover's UK-made parachute

Wednesday 24th February 2021 09:30 GMT

Twitter and Reddit users have said the phrase "dare mighty things" was written on the parachute using a pattern representing binary computer code.

The phrase dates back to a speech made by the former US president Theodore Roosevelt in 1899.

Former NASA intern Emily Calandrelli explained how the message was revealed after it was decoded by fellow Twitter user Abela Paf.

Ms Calandrelli, who hosts science shows on Fox and Netflix, pointed to the parachute's pattern as she said: "So if you look at the parachute there's many of these - we'll call them columns that go towards the centre.

"There's also four main rings with different patterns. Consider a red location a 1 and a white location a 0.

"Ring by ring, put those numbers in groups of 10 and consider it a 10-bit pattern. What that means is each position, starting with the far right is an exponent of 2.

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"2 to the 0 is 1, this one is 2, this one is 4, 8 and so on. Add up all these numbers, that's what this column is.

"For the inner three rings, those numbers map to letters and that spells out 'dare mighty things'."

Ms Calandrelli goes on to say that "dare mighty things" is a popular slogan at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory where mission control is based.

Abela Paf had written after working out the coded message: "Dare mighty things! Well done! @NASA @NASAPersevere."

Another Twitter user wrote: "Looks like 'dare mighty things' is the parachute code from the @NASAJPL perseverance rover.

"The phrase is on signs all around JPL (e.g. the EDL War Room)."

The parachute's fabric was made by Devon-based Heathcoat Fabrics in the southwest of England.

The pattern on the outer-edge of the parachute is reported to represent 34°11'58" N 118°10'31" W - with the numbers giving the geolocation code for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The pattern reportedly allows mission control to see what angle the parachute was deployed at and whether it got twisted.

Allen Chen, a NASA systems engineer, said before the Perseverance rover landed on Mars last week: "It's a feeling of being very fortunate at the end... that I get to work at a place with people who are both great engineers and great people, and we still get to dare mighty things together."

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