The end of the journey of the Artemis I spacecraft around the moon brought a surprise to some space-goers that only advanced space enthusiasts could see – secret messages purposefully plastered around the Orion capsule as part of a challenge NASA described as an “Easter egg” hunt.
The hidden gems referred to by the space agency as “Easter eggs” were anything but the usual multicolored plastic shells children dawn their best Sunday attire to go searching for.
Among the data-collecting manikins, experiments and other important technology were mementos to space history, tributes and even puzzles that NASA challenged the world to spot in its sometimes rather poor-quality imagery.
The mission was not the first occasion where NASA has embedded messages in spacecrafts. Voyager 1 and 2, several Mars rovers and other historic missions have all contained mementos that range from pictures of Earth to metal from the New York 9-11 Twin Towers.
The space agency teased about capsule’s “Easter eggs” for weeks but lifted the veil of secrecy on the eve of capsule’s splashdown on Earth.
Can you spot the five hidden messages around the cabin?
Item #1- Cardinal
Above the window of Orion’s pilot seat is an image of a red cardinal. NASA said the bird served as a tribute to former Orion Program manager Mark Geyer. Geyer passed away in 2021 and was the first program manager for spacecraft. The Indianapolis native was a devout St. Louis Cardinals fan and worked at NASA since 1994.
Item #2 – Morse code symbol
Located above the voice-activated technology demonstration panel in the middle of the cabin are the symbols for “Charlie” in Morse code. NASA said the code commemorates the life of former Orion Deputy Program Manager Charlie Lundquist, who died in 2020. Lundquist started his NASA career in 1993 and was responsible for the spacecraft’s design, development and testing.
Item #3 – Country codes
The effort to launch the mega moon rocket was a global effort and as a testament to nearly a dozen countries that participated building the capsule, each country’s code was placed in the cabin. The country codes can be spotted in front of the pilot’s seat, below the voice-activated technology demonstration panel. Countries include the United States, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Spain and the Netherlands.
Item #4 – Music letters
On the right side of the cabin, near the pilot’s seat, you can spot the letters “CBAGF” on a yellow backdrop. NASA’s says they are the music notes to Frank Sinatra’s 1964 song “Fly Me to the Moon.” Many associate the musical hit with Apollo missions that took place in the 1960s and 1970s. Once Artemis I and II are deemed successful, NASA says the Artemis III mission could land astronauts on the moon as early as 2025.
Item #5 – Binary code
To the right of the NASA logo, above the pilot’s seat are black and white blocks. These blocks represent the code 10010 or the number 18. NASA says the binary code honors the Apollo program and signifies the return to the moon following Apollo 17. The 1972 mission was the most recent time humans have set foot on the lunar body.