A student decodes the hidden message of the Perseverance rover’s parachute!

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A week ago, the Perseverance rover successfully landed on the planet Mars. On the video of the landing, it is impossible to miss his imposing parachute, the motif of which included a hidden message. A computer science student managed to decode it.

A message decoded very quickly

This February 18, 2021, the rover Perseverance arrived on the red planet. NASA then quickly unveiled several incredible photos, as well as a rather impressive video. Many people were able to admire the parachute at work during the landing. However, the latter had a hidden message, as announced by NASA during the briefing preceding the broadcast of the images. On Twitter on February 23, engineer Adam Steltzer of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), however, said the infamous hidden message was decoded by a computer science student about six hours after landing. Nevertheless, the engineer did not provide any explanation to accompany his congratulations.

This message consisted of three words “Dare powerful things” which mean “Dare grandiose things”. This expression is simply the slogan adopted by the JPL as part of the Perseverance mission. This same slogan was also an important source of motivation for the teams who worked on the construction of the rover.

How to explain the nature of the code of the Perseverance parachute?

The image published by Adam Steltzer shows several letters of the alphabet giving the impression of being placed at random, just like different numbers. Popular science advocate Emily Calandrelli has posted a very clear video on the subject. She indicated that by observing the parachute closely, it is possible to see red, white or white and red vertical columns. This makes it possible to represent a binary code : red represents 1 and white represents 0. Horizontally, the parachute is cut into three circles starting from the center and one on the outer edge.

The reading is done in this way: the circles contain a certain number of red and white columns and therefore, 1 and 0. In reality, it is a question of a 10-bit encoding. Each circle represents a word since each of these same circles has groups of 10 columns denoting the position of a letter in binary code.

Is all this not clear enough? Don’t hesitate to watch Emily Calandrelli’s video:

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