Conspiracy theorists love to suggest that the Moon landing in 1969 was faked, but just because that conjecture is a major stretch, it doesn't mean NASA doesn't keep some secrets.
Anyone paying attention to recent space exploration events probably knows that the United States landed the Perseverance rover on Mars in early 2021, but it took some intrepid sleuths to decrypt a code hidden in the rover's parachute. The parachute has an unusual red-and-white pattern on it, but if you convert the colors to binary code, you come up with the phrase "Dare mighty things," which just happens to be a motto of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab.
A NASA commentator acknowledged the hidden code during a live streamed talk about the landing. "Sometimes we leave messages in our work for others to find," the NASA employee said. "So we invite you all to give it a shot and show your work." Besides the phrase, the rover also carries 10.9 million names on microchips, 155 rover-naming essays, and an image of the Rod of Asclepius, a symbol taken from ancient Rome that denotes healing and medicine. It was placed to mark the Earth's struggles with the coronavirus.
More NASA surprises:
- The Space Shuttle Enterprise was originally dubbed Constitution, until Star Trek fans wrote en masse, asking for a name change.
- In 2006, NASA embarrassed itself by admitting workers had accidentally taped over the original recording of the first moon landing.
- The Apollo astronauts of the 1960s and 1970s remain the only humans to ever travel outside of low Earth orbit or land on another world.