NASA Martian Rover Easter Eggs: From Hidden Messages to Geocaches

The hidden Easter eggs on the Perseverance rover 1 photo
Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech
"Festooning" is how NASA calls its tradition of fitting space exploration hardware with hidden messages, nods to the past, or harder-to-understand Easter eggs - all of us know the image of the man and a woman shown on the Pioneer, or the Golden Record of the Voyager, or even the pieces of metal from the Twin Towers that were installed on the Opportunity and Spirit rovers.
The recently launched Perseverance rover is no exception from the tradition. Presently closer to the Red Planet than its homeworld, this machine too carries with it such items and messages for future generations of Martian dwellers to discover. And NASA decided last week to tell us about five of them.

Some of you might already know the rover is carrying with it a microchip stenciled with the names of 10.9-million people. But what fewer of us knew is that the chip also contains “the 155 finalist essays submitted for Perseverance's Name the Rover contest.”

On the rover’s Mastcam-Z instrument there are several inscriptions. The most visible one reads "Two Worlds, One Beginning," but out of view sits another, more complex one: "Are we alone? We came here to look for signs of life, and to collect samples of Mars for study on Earth. To those who follow, we wish a safe journey and the joy of discovery."

The SHERLOC instrument comes not only with a piece of Martian meteorite, but also a coin that doubles as a geocache target, and is inscribed with the Earth address of Sherlock Holmes.

Last, but not least, the rover is taking to Mars a special aluminum plate depicting our planet supported by the Rod of Asclepius, the element that came to be known as the symbol of medicine. The plate is supposed to be a way for future, possibly Martian generations of humans to remember that 2020 was the year of a great pandemic here on Earth.

For a better understanding of the Perseverance and the instruments mentioned above, follow this link.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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