Messages on Mars Perseverance Rover

From bracelets to body art, humans have adorned themselves for thousands of years. The spacecraft that we send to Mars are no different! Many NASA orbiters, landers, and rovers fly with artwork, signs, and symbols on board that reflect the time and place they were made.

The Perseverance rover has several embellishments, which were thoughtfully chosen, designed and then etched onto pieces of titanium or aluminum. Some designs celebrate past missions, while others offer hope for future human achievements on Mars.


Parachute Code

This annotated image was taken by a parachute-up-look camera aboard the protective back shell of NASA's Perseverance rover during its descent toward Mars' Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021.
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This annotated image was taken by a parachute-up-look camera aboard the protective back shell of NASA's Perseverance rover during its descent toward Mars' Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021.
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The Mars Perseverance rover is not the only location for a playful puzzle. As it turns out, so is the parachute! Engineers integrated a unique pattern in the white and orange sections of Perseverance's 70-foot-diameter supersonic parachute. As the rover was landing, cameras took pictures of the parachute during descent through the Martian atmosphere. The images help engineers know the precise orientation of the parachute as it inflated. Engineers saw this as an opportunity for a binary brain puzzle: so within each circular row of the parachute, they added the words “Dare Mighty Things” in binary code. The phrase is from a speech by President Theodore Roosevelt. It is also the motto for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Along the outer edge of the parachute are the Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates for JPL in Southern California, where the team built the Perseverance rover.


  • Can the rover see this on Mars? Yes, it's visible to a camera on the backshell, Rover Up-Look Camera.

'Explore as One' Plate

10,932,295 names written on a microchip placed on the rover 'Explore as One Plate'
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Nearly 11 million people from around the world have one thing in common: their name is riding aboard the Perseverance rover.
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A placard commemorating NASA's "Send Your Name to Mars" campaign installed on the Perseverance Mars rover
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Three fingernail-sized chips affixed to the upper-left corner of the placard feature the names of 10,932,295 people who participated.
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'Send Your Name' Placard Attached to Perseverance
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Nearly 11 million people from around the world have one thing in common: their name is riding aboard the Perseverance rover.

Three fingernail-sized silicon chips with 10.9 million names stenciled on them are now attached to an aluminum plate mounted on a crossbeam of the rover.

On the same plate is a laser-etched image showing Earth and Mars on either side of our Sun, the star that gives light to both planets. The rays of the Sun carry a special message – “Explore as One” – written as dots and dashes in Morse code.

This is not the first time Morse code has been sent to Mars. The Curiosity rover on Mars has a dot and dash pattern in the tread of its wheels.


  • Can the rover see this on Mars? Yes, it's visible to cameras on the rover mast, Mastcam-Z and Navcam.

Perseverance Nameplate

10,932,295 names written on a microchip placed on the rover 'Explore as One Plate'
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Nearly 11 million people from around the world have one thing in common: their name is riding aboard the Perseverance rover.
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Mars Perseverance Nameplate
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“We, not as a nation but as humans, will not give up. The human race will always persevere into the future.” These words were written by Alexander Mather, the seventh-grade student who proposed this rover's name in this winning essay. All five of the rovers that have rolled on Mars have been named by students.

The name Perseverance is etched on a titanium plate mounted on the rover's robotic arm. Besides looking great in photos (see Curiosity's nameplate), this plate has two important jobs. It protects the electrical cables on the robotic arm during landing. It also prevents those cables from getting too cold, because the plate's black color absorbs heat from the Sun. NASA landers and rovers are built to persevere through the cold Martian conditions.


  • Can the rover see this on Mars? Yes, it's visible to cameras on the rover mast, Mastcam-Z and Navcam.

Mars 2020 Mission Nameplate

A long rectangular shape with a stylized rover and the words “Mars 2020” written across it
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A long rectangular shape with a stylized rover and the words “Mars 2020” written across it
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NASA's Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its onboard Left Navigation Camera (Navcam). It shows the Mars 2020 and Perseverance nameplate on its robotic arm.
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NASA's Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its onboard Left Navigation Camera (Navcam). It shows the Mars 2020 and Perseverance nameplate on its robotic arm.
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The Mars 2020 mission, named for its launch year, is etched on the other titanium plate attached to the upper part of the rover's robotic arm. Next to the mission name is the mission identifier.

This is the first official, off-planet Product Identification Number (PIN), issued in part by the Society of Automotive Engineers, similar to the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) assigned to on-road vehicles. PIN numbers are given to off-road vehicles, now including a six-wheeled, self-driving robot exploring Mars!

A PIN or VIN is a unique set of letters and numbers, almost like a fingerprint, which can be "decoded" to reveal the year, vehicle type, manufacturer, and even the factory in which a car or truck was built. Mars Perseverance bears the first official Product Identification Number assigned to a spacecraft. Future spacecraft could be assigned their own PINs, encoding information like where they will explore, how they are powered, and how many instruments they carry.

Here is how to decode the Mars Perseverance rover's 17-digit PIN:

An illustration depicting the 17-digit product identification number (PIN) that is on a metal plate on the Mars Perseverance rover's robotic arm. Above and below the PIN is text explaining what the digits stand for.
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An illustration depicting the 17-digit product identification number (PIN) that is on a metal plate on the Mars Perseverance rover's robotic arm. Above and below the PIN is text explaining what the digits stand for.
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  • Can the rover see this on Mars? Yes, it's visible to cameras on the rover mast, Mastcam-Z and Navcam.

Rover Evolution Plate

A black aluminum plate showing an evolution of the NASA rover family
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Rover Evolution Plate Getting Ready for Mars
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TA planetary protection engineer is swabbing and cleaning the surface.
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Rover Evolution Plate Getting Ready for Mars
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A black aluminum plate mounted on the top deck of Perseverance, near its camera mast, depicts NASA's Mars rover family in the order they landed on Mars. From left to right you can see the first rover, Sojourner (1997), followed by twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity (2004), then Curiosity (2012), still exploring today. Perseverance and Ingenuity (2021), the helicopter this mission is carrying to Mars, lead this group into the future, building upon the knowledge gained by NASA's earlier explorers.


  • Can the rover see this on Mars? Yes, it's visible to cameras on the rover mast, Mastcam-Z and Navcam.

United States Flag

A plate with the United States Flag on it
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All NASA spacecrafts include a United States flag.
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Perseverance Rover at Cape
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All NASA spacecraft include a United States flag. While Perseverance is operated by NASA, its science and engineering teams include people from other space agencies and countries. Norway, Spain, and France have contributed important science instruments on the rover. This plate is located at the base of Perseverance's remote sensing mast.


  • Can the rover see this on Mars? Yes, it's visible to a camera at the end of the arm, WATSON.

JPL Logo

JPL Insignia on a plate
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Jet Propulsion Laboratory
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NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), in Pasadena, California, has a long history of designing, building, and testing spacecraft that have traveled to Mars, other planets, and have even left our solar system. Perseverance was assembled in the historic spacecraft assembly facility at JPL, but like other NASA spacecraft, includes the creativity and hard work of people all over the world. This plate is mounted on the left front of the rover.


  • Can the rover see this on Mars? Yes, it's visible to a camera at the end of the arm, WATSON.

NASA Insignia Plate

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Perseverance Rover at Cape
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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's iconic insignia is mounted like a bold blue badge on the right front panel of the Perseverance rover. The Mars 2020 mission and the Perseverance rover carry on a proud tradition of NASA's exploration of our solar system and beyond.


  • Can the rover see this on Mars? Yes, it's visible to a camera at the end of the arm, WATSON.

Rover DNA 'Tattoo'

Illustration of a DNA strand.
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Illustration of a DNA strand
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A tattoo of DNA is etched onto the Perseverance Rover's wheel.
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A tattoo of DNA is etched onto the Perseverance Rover's wheel.
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Humanity's insatiable desire to explore the unknown is encoded in our DNA, and we have, from our earliest history, invented the tools to make that exploration possible. Our impulse for both exploration and innovation will help pave the way for future human exploration of Mars.

Inside the rover's front left wheel is a small illustration of two rover wheel tracks. One appears as if it's printed in the Martian sand, highlighting the technical achievements required to traverse the unknown. The other track, twisted into the shape of DNA, is a reminder that our space robots are of human origin, and reflects the innate human desire for exploration.



'Bringing Back a Piece of Mars' Plate

10,932,295 names written on a microchip placed on the rover 'Explore as One Plate'
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Nearly 11 million people from around the world have one thing in common: their name is riding aboard the Perseverance rover.
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The Perseverance rover will collect rock samples that may be returned to Earth by a future mission. This is the first step in a remarkable set of missions to complete a round trip from Earth to Mars and back. Studying Mars samples in Earth-based laboratories may answer the important question of whether, billions of years ago, life ever arose on Mars.

Twin aluminum plates symbolize the quest for an answer. One plate, mounted on the lower left side of the rover, has an etched line drawing of part of Jezero crater on Mars. A round piece in the center of that drawing seems to be missing. The other plate, on display at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena, California, bears the round piece that completes the drawing. The two parts make a whole, a scientific puzzle to be completed in the future, when samples of Mars rocks are brought back to Earth.


  • Can the rover see this on Mars? No, this plate is not visible to the cameras.

Tribute to Healthcare Workers Plate

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COVID plaque attached underneath the rover
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Seen from below, NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is in position in the aeroshell that will protect the rover on its way to the Red Planet.
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Perseverance Rover With Commemorative Plate
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The Perseverance rover was prepared for launch at both the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and Kennedy Space Center in Florida during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Engineers and technicians worked under difficult conditions to ready the rover and spacecraft for a seven-month trip to Mars.

The Perseverance team designed the Unity plate as a tribute of the resolution and perseverance of front-line healthcare workers, who risk their lives to treat those in need. These courageous individuals inspire all of us to face the greatest challenges, and we hope this mission provides inspiration in return. This plate was installed on the left side of the rover chassis.

Download a certificate of appreciation for healthcare workers featuring an image of this plate.


  • Can the rover see this on Mars? No, this plate is not visible to the cameras.

Mastcam-Z Calibration Target

Picture depicts a pair of hand holding the primary Mastcam-Z cal target from a first person point of view.
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Primary Mastcam-Z is being inspected
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Both the primary and secondary mastcam-Z cal targets are shown
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Both a primary and secondary mastcam-z are on the rover
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Mastcam-Z Looks at Its Calibration Target
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Like a tourist traveling to an exotic destination with a camera and a few lenses, Perseverance is packing 23 cameras to capture images of Mars. Some cameras allow the rover to “see” a path forward, and others help scientists decide which rocks to look at more closely. Since the “photographers” are millions of miles away, Perseverance's Mastcam-Z science cameras need to be adjusted remotely by using calibration targets (cal targets, for short). Cal targets are small discs that have known examples of color, reflectance (how much light bounces off a rock) and focus, so teams can operate the cameras and spectrometers properly and collect the most useful images and data possible.

In addition to the primary cal target discussed earlier, Mastcam-Z cal carries another secondary target to help verify the primary target, under slightly different lighting. This target takes a more straightforward approach, with two rows of squares, color and grayscale, arranged in straight lines on a bracket and at a right angle to each other.

Visible to Mastcam-Z when the rover “looks over its shoulder,” the cal targets are used to adjust color images. As on Earth, lighting conditions on Mars change with the time of day, time of year, and amount of the dust in the atmosphere. The quality of daylight affects how much light the Mars rocks reflect back to the camera (called reflectance). By taking an image of a rock, and then of the calibration target at the same time of day, scientists can adjust the lighting of the image to reveal the true color and reflectance of the rock. The vertical structure, a "gnomon," casts a shadow on the cal target just like sundials on Earth. The shadow provides useful information on the rover's heading, Sun angle, and lighting conditions.

Earth photographers hate dust on their lenses, but they don't have to deal with the magnetic iron dust on Mars! The color and grayscale dots on the primary cal target have hollow magnets beneath them, to draw the sticky dust away from the center of the dot.

Etched into the gold and silver-plated primary cal target are several elements to inspire and unify current and future explorers. A set of simple drawings arranged clockwise around the top of the disk depicts the development of life on Earth, culminating with humans and space flight. A short motto, “Two Worlds, One Beginning,” looks to the future Mars Sample Return mission, in which the rock cores that Perseverance collects may be returned to Earth and studied by future generations.

Along the edge of the cal target, and only visible to future explorers who may see the rover and its instruments some day in the future with their own eyes, is the phrase:

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.

To celebrate the global search for knowledge and adventure, the phrase “joy of discovery” is written in the five most frequently-spoken languages on Earth: English, Mandarin, Hindi, Spanish, and Arabic.


SHERLOC Calibration Target

A rectangular metal plate with five circles on one row with various materials and a single circle followed by four squares on the second row also containg various materials.
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This instrument is used to look for tiny minerals and organic materials.
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The SHERLOC instrument designed to look for tiny minerals and organic molecules, doesn't care so much about color. SHERLOC uses several optical calibration targets to adjust the resolution, or focus, of two of its cameras, the Autofocus and Context Imager (ACI) and the Wide Angle for Topographic Sensor for Operations and Engineering (WATSON). For SHERLOC, pinpoint accuracy is key to mapping traces of organics in small areas of rock with a laser spectrometer, and then taking an image of the same area with a magnifying camera.

The SHERLOC cal target consists of two aluminum plates that encase five disks of silica or sapphire, and five astronaut space suit fabric samples. These materials were carefully chosen to provide data to adjust SHERLOC's cameras and the spectrometers, and to help a team at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston design gear to protect future human explorers.


Mineral Samples

Spacesuit Material Going to Mars
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If you need to check the accuracy of your laser spectrometer and camera often, why not have some fun with it? One of the five disks, which is made of fused silica, is “printed” with a tiny chrome maze. This intricate design helps engineers check the SHERLOC laser's ability to scan across a tiny area and create a “map” of organic or mineral grains in a rock. This maze evokes both the detective Sherlock Holmes and his search for answers, and our hunt for signs of ancient life on Mars.

Another disk features a sample that is actually returning to Mars. This is a slice of a Martian meteorite, found on Earth in Oman in 1999. This slice, along with a second piece of the same meteorite that remains in a lab on Earth, provides reference data for the Deep Ultraviolet Raman spectrometer.


Space Suit Materials

10,932,295 names written on a microchip placed on the rover 'Explore as One Plate'
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Nearly 11 million people from around the world have one thing in common: their name is riding aboard the Perseverance rover.
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SHERLOC Geocoin Artwork
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Four of the five space suit samples are made of materials used in current space suits, and could inform what future astronauts will wear when they explore Earth's Moon or Mars. Samples of Teflon, Vectran, and Dacron will remain exposed to the intense ultraviolet radiation and cold temperatures of Mars. The ACI and the WATSON cameras will periodically take magnified images of these samples. Space suit specialists on Earth will study those images to see if the materials break down, and how fast.

The most detailed cal target disk is composed of two parts, and serves two critical functions. The bottom layer, made of opal glass, has markings in blue chrome, and is covered by a layer of polycarbonate, used to make the visors on astronaut helmets. By peering at calibration marks through the polycarbonate during Perseverance's mission, the cameras will note if and when the polycarbonate starts to break down. This is like when you start to notice that the lenses of your glasses are getting scratched over time.

The patterns on the upper portion of the opal disk feature tiny vertical lines from an optical calibration system developed by the United States Air Force. In the center there is a set of letters and numbers, resembling the address in London where the fictional Sherlock Holmes lived. This code is called a geocache “coin.” Geocaching is an outdoor activity in which people use maps or Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates to find hidden objects, or caches. When someone finds a cache, they record their discovery in a log book or online, and replace it for the next person to find. This geocache is the first one of it's kind on Mars and future explorers may log it in the future. Until then, a future mission to Mars will recover the sample tubes left behind by Perseverance. Within this precious “cache” scientists will search for signs of ancient life, once the samples are brought back to Earth.

On the lower section of the opal disk is a row of tiny figures that seem to be dancing. These figures can also be used for optical calibration, if the camera cannot see the top row of the disk. The row of characters is a cipher, or code, called “The Dancing Man.” This code appears in “The Adventure of the Dancing Men,” published as a short story by Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1903. In the story, Holmes was able to crack the code and solve the mystery. We will crack this code for you: the figures spell out “Cache me if you can.”


SuperCam Calibration Target

The SuperCam Cal target in place on the starboard aft section of Perseverance.
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The SuperCam Cal target in place on the starboard aft section of Perseverance.
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SuperCam is not just one tool, it is more like a tool box, with a laser, four spectrometers, a telescope, a microphone, and a magnifying camera to identify chemicals and minerals that make up Mars rocks. The SuperCam calibration target has elements that enable optical, reflectance, and laser calibration for these tools.

To test the resolution and focus, of the Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) a series of optical calibration marks adorn an aluminum plate at the top of the unit that holds the other samples. Also attached to that plate is one of two Mars meteorite samples that are being ferried back to the Red Planet on Perseverance (the other Mars meteorite is on the SHERLOC calibration target). This meteorite will be used for “target practice” for the laser. A set of red, green, and cyan (blue) color and greyscale samples will help engineers adjust the color images from the RMI to account for the varied lighting conditions on Mars.

Twenty-three other mineral and rock samples can be observed by the Laser Induced Breakdown Spectrometer (LIBS), the Raman, and the Visible/Infrared spectrometers. Scientists will be able to compare results from each spectrometer on the same samples. Not to play favorites, but a small diamond was included to check the Raman spectrometer only! Sticking out of the right side of the cal target is a square titanium plate, which produces a consistent wavelength for the LIBS laser, useful for adjusting all three LIBS spectrometers.

This cal target was subjected to some tough tests in northern Spain, to make sure it would survive the cold temperatures on Mars and wouldn't break during landing. After testing, the flight unit was attached to the back of the rover, near the power source. Engineers can turn Perseverance's “head,” or the remote sensing mast, so that Supercam can observe the target and ensure that the tools in its toolbox are working perfectly.