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Monday, August 06, 2012

Curiosity rover writes Morse Code of JPL everywhere it goes

The Curiosity Rover that landed on Mars today has a neat feature in its wheels that allows it to spot if it gets stuck. The wheels have an asymmetric pattern of holes in them that leave a distinctive imprint on the surface of Mars. The rover views these marks with a camera to determine if it has traveled the distance it thinks it has. This 'visual odometry' means that Curiosity can spot if it's slipping or stuck and call home for help.

The visual odometry is mentioned in this video where the marks can be clearly seen:


Here's a close up shot of the marks on the centre wheel.


Look carefully and the pattern is

short long long long
short long long short
short long short short

or

. - - -
. - - .
. - . .

which is Morse Code for JPL, the home of Curiosity.

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