Decoding the red and white stripes revealed an inspiring messaged from Nasa's Jet Propulsion Lab.
Last week the world watched as NASA landed its fifth rover, Perseverance, on the surface of Mars.
After travelling around 300 million miles through space, the capsule that delivered Perseverance entered the Martian atmosphere going over 12,000 miles per hour, stabilized its descent, deployed a parachute, shed its heat shield, then dropped the rocket-powered sky crane that lowered the rover safely to the surface of the planet, inside the Jezero Crater. So, you know — NASA business as usual.
Perseverance Rover's Descent and Touchdown on Mars (Official NASA Video) www.youtube.com
At least that's how it seemed, until some clever, and curious inhabitants of the NASA subreddit started to examine the landing footage more closely. There they discovered a secret message encoded in the red and white stripes of the capsule's parachute.
Decoding the Mystery
It wasn't clear at first what the meaning could be. But the pattern was too unusual to be decorative or random, and that there was nothing like it in any of the mockups or animations NASA released ahead of the mission.
Was it one of those cryptic hints the Illuminati loves to leave for conspiracy theorists? Perhaps an admission that the moon landing was faked by Stanley Kubrick in a sound stage? Eventually Reddit users rdtwt1 and tend0g were able to convert the pattern of stripes into a message encoded in binary and printed in four concentric rings across the parachutes surface.
On the outermost ring, coordinates that roughly correspond to the location of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (34°11'58" N 118°10'31" W) — where the mission was headquartered. Then, reading from the outside in, the rest of the message is as follows: "Sgniht ythgim erad."
NASA and reddit users rdtwt1 and tend0g
It's better not to try to pronounce those words out loud. They cannot be traced to any known language — any human language.
Undoubtedly they are an incantation to raise the Elder Gods that turned Mars from a thriving, lively planet into the barren ball of dust we see today. If NASA hasn't already succeeded in summoning those unfathomable horrors to earth, speaking their eldritch names aloud can surely only assist in that evil purpose...
Either that, or the message is meant to be read the other way around as "Dare mighty things" — a reference to 26th president Theodore Roosevelt's 1899 speech "The Strenuous Life," in which he said, "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."
Does the Mission of Perseverance Dare Mighty Things?
It's an inspiring quote, but now we're left with the question of whether NASA and the JPL have earned the use of this lofty adage with their newest rover. You might think that attempting to send anything to Mars would count as a daring and mighty goal — after all, only about 40% of missions sent to the planet have succeeded.
On the other hand, isn't Perseverance pretty much the same as their previous rover, Curiosity, which landed on Mars in 2012? They even reused some of Curiosity's parts. Are they really spending billions of our tax dollars to keep playing the same hits?
It's certainly true that both Perseverance and Curiosity are large vehicles sent to Mars on a mission of exploration and discovery. Both are fueled by masses of plutonium-238 oxide, which slowly decay over decades, giving off heat that can be converted to electricity. And both rovers use that electricity to power a slow crawl (less than 0.1 mph) along the Martian surface, as well as the instruments they use to take images and analyze soil samples.
But Perseverance comes with some new tricks. In addition to being slightly beefier, with a larger, more powerful robotic arm capable of collecting rock core samples, the new rover has finer x-ray instrumentation designed to search soil samples for signs of past life, and ground-penetrating radar to examine the martian geology and detect subsurface water.
NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter: Attempting the First Powered Flight on Mars www.youtube.com
It also features an autonomous helicopter drone known as Ingenuity, which — if successful — will conduct the first ever powered flights on an alien planet (excluding all the powered flights conducted by aliens). Perhaps even cooler is a piece of equipment that produces oxygen out of the Martian atmoshpere's carbon dioxide, in a proof of concept for tech that could eventually supply breathable atmosphere for a future colony of astronauts living on an alien planet.
All in all, flying a helicopter around Mars and taking the first steps toward establishing a permanent colony on a planet tens of millions of miles from Earth seems pretty mighty and daring. So maybe NASA and JLP have earned that secret motto.
Of course, that's all assuming you believe NASA's official line in the first place. If, on the other hand, you know that they already have a colony of kidnapped children on the red planet, you'll realize that this is all theater meant to distract you from the real story.
There's fake snow in Texas! Wake up, sheeple!