Geek Trivia

What Subtle Message Do Mars Rover Curiosity’s Wheels Leave Behind?

(RDB) Ray Douglas Bradbury
(JPL) Jet Propulsion Lab
(NASA) National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(CES) Carl Edward Segan
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Answer: (JPL) Jet Propulsion Lab

When NASA’s Curiosity rover rolls quietly across the Martian plains, it leaves behind a very subtle calling card that points back to its birthplace tens of millions of miles away.

The tread of the rover’s wheels are mostly a simple but effective zig-zag pattern but a small segment of each wheel tread is devoted to a series of cutouts. The pattern of the cutouts ” .-.. / .–. / .— ” spells out the initials of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory via Morse Code in reverse–LPJ. As the rover explores Mars it prints the letters in the proper order, JPL, leaving a subtle nod to its birthplace wherever it goes.