It might now be revealed that NASA’s Orion spacecraft, which is only a day away from returning to Earth, carried secret messages to the moon on its Artemis 1 mission.
What’s extra, the hidden notes were in plain sight (opens in new tab) the complete time.
“We do have some Easter eggs within the view of the cockpit. So whenever you do get that view, pleased looking of us!” stated Mike Sarafin, NASA’s Artemis mission supervisor, on Nov. 18, the third day of the 25.5-day Artemis 1 mission. By “Easter eggs” he was utilizing the time period usually related to software program or movies to explain a hidden function.
NASA then went quiet on the subject. That’s, till right this moment (Dec. 10), when the company revealed the areas and meanings behind the stealthy missives.
Associated: 10 strange things Artemis 1 took to the moon
Spoiler warning: If you need extra time to search out the “eggs” your self, pause studying right here till you’re able to examine what you discovered.
“We now have 5 Easter eggs,” Kelly Humphries, information chief at NASA’s Johnson Area Middle in Houston, confirmed in an e mail to collectSPACE.com. “The black and white bars between the home windows, the purple cardinal on the suitable aspect, the yellow sticker to the suitable of the hatch with ‘CBAGF,’ the black and white bars subsequent to the NASA worm on the mass simulator (backside proper) and the numbers seen on the ahead bulkhead to the suitable of the docking tunnel.”
The NASA and Lockheed Martin crew that designed and constructed the Orion spacecraft for the Artemis 1 mission got here up with every of the coded notes. The Exploration Floor Programs crew, which ready the ship for its launch, was the primary to see the Easter eggs whereas putting in them.
“They deciphered all of the puzzles and had been sworn to secrecy,” Humphries wrote.
Primarily based on social media posts, the primary of the “eggs” to be deciphered by the general public was the primary in Humphries’ checklist, the black and white bars positioned between Orion’s home windows. The bars are Morse code — a way of encoding letters as indicators that was used with the telegraph and with ham radio.
Learn from the underside up, the “dashes” and “dots” spell out “Charlie”. However who’s Charlie? Was it a nod to Artemis 1 launch director Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, the primary lady to guide NASA’s launch management heart? Was it a reference to Apollo 16 moonwalker Charlie Duke? Or perhaps it was Charlie Brown, Snoopy’s proprietor within the Charles Schulz cartoon “Peanuts”? (An astronaut Snoopy doll was flown (opens in new tab) aboard the Orion because the Artemis 1 zero-g indicator.)
“As you’ll be able to see, ‘CHARLIE’ can imply many issues. For the Orion program, it commemorates Charlie Lundquist, Orion’s deputy program supervisor who died in 2020,” stated Humphries.
An analogous tribute is represented by the fowl on the suitable aspect of the Orion cabin. The icon is for Mark Geyer, former Orion program supervisor and Johnson Space Center director — and a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball crew — who died in 2021.
The letters C, B, A, G, and F that seem on a yellow sticker to the suitable of Orion’s hatch are hidden notes of the music kind. Every represents a gap observe within the 1954 track “Fly Me to the Moon” written by Bart Howard. A decade later, the identical track as carried out by Frank Sinatra grew to become related to the Apollo missions to the moon.
“I feel many people had been buzzing that track as we noticed Orion perform the trans-lunar injection burn (opens in new tab),” Humphries stated, including that members of the Artemis 1 crew from NASA and its worldwide and business companions recorded a video of them singing the identical track earlier than the mission’s launch.
The black and white bars seen subsequent to the NASA “worm” logotype is binary for the quantity 18. The final mission to fly astronauts to the moon was Apollo 17, therefore the following quantity within the sequence. (By coincidence, the Artemis I mission is ready to splash down on the identical date, 50 years in the past, that Apollo 17 landed on the moon (opens in new tab).)
The final of the Easter eggs was one of the best hidden, in response to Humphries. The numbers on the ahead bulkhead to the suitable of the docking tunnel — 1, 31, 32, 33, 34, 39, 41, 43, 46, 47 and 49 — are the nation calling codes for the nations that participated in constructing the Orion spacecraft: the US and member states of the European Space Agency (ESA), the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway and Germany.
Associated: Everything you need to know about NASA’s Artemis program
Artemis 1 is just not the primary NASA mission to incorporate Easter eggs for the general public to search out. When the Curiosity rover started exploring Mars in 2012, its wheels left behind a track spelling out “JPL” (opens in new tab) in Morse code, a reference to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the place the mission is managed. Equally, JPL engineers designed the descent parachute for the Perseverance Mars rover to show the lab’s motto, “Dare Mighty Issues,” and its GPS coordinates in binary code.
The apply even dates again to the primary time NASA went to the moon. Although not seen by the general public till many years later, the MIT programmers who wrote the flight software program for the Apollo 11 spacecraft included quite a few Easter eggs of their 1969 supply code. For instance, the file title that included the machine directions for igniting the engine was labeled “Burn Child Burn,” whereas one other file seemingly requested that the astronauts “please crank the foolish factor round” earlier than going “off to see the wizard.”
Whether or not or not Easter eggs can even develop into an Artemis program custom continues to be to be seen, stated Humphries.
“Nothing is deliberate right now, however you by no means know if we’ll get some nice concepts for future flights with crew,” he wrote.
collectSPACE.com is grateful to movie and TV firm Haviland Digital (opens in new tab) for supporting our Artemis 1 protection. Their crew has produced and supported titles such because the award-winning “Final Man on the Moon,” “Mission Management: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo” and “Armstrong.”
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