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Mars Rover Fans Get Special Easter Surprise

2 new 'Easter eggs' revealed, including spacecraft's unique ID number and 2 tiny 'tattoos'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2021 8:59 AM CDT

(Newser) – The Perseverance rover took its first spin on Mars last month, to the delight of all its fans back on Earth, but NASA had even more excitement to offer over the holiday weekend. Per CBS News, the space agency chose Easter Sunday to reveal additional "Easter eggs"—jokes, messages, or other "hidden gems" put there by the scientists who worked on Perseverance—including the rover's identifying number and two tiny drawings on one of its wheels. Perseverance's unique 17-digit Product Identification Number (a PIN that's like a car's VIN) on its nameplate, said to be the first on a spacecraft, reads "AONREHMELN1730055." Each letter or number signifies something important about the rover: The "R," for example, stands for "rover," while "7" represents how many instruments are on board.

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The second Easter egg that emerged Sunday: what the Independent refers to as the rover's "DNA tattoo." That "tat" is actually two tiny drawings on the inside of the rover's front left wheel depicting the wheel's tracks in the sand—the first seen as a normal track, "highlighting the technical achievements required to traverse the unknown," the second as a twisted DNA-like version to remind us "that our space robots are of human origin." The outlet notes all of the rover's add-ons, which include signs, art, and other symbols, are "thoughtfully chosen to reflect the significance of the machine." "These kinds of embellishments add artistic elements on missions that are otherwise solely dominated by science and technology," Arizona State astronomy professor Jim Bell tells CBS. (Read more Mars rover stories.)

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