Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

A View from Jeff Foust

Martian Language and Culture

No, this has nothing to do with little green men or other aliens. With the Mars rover missions about to enter their third month on the planet, it’s not surprising that the teams of scientists and engineers involved with the…

  • February 27, 2004

No, this has nothing to do with little green men or other aliens. With the Mars rover missions about to enter their third month on the planet, it’s not surprising that the teams of scientists and engineers involved with the missions have developed some interesting jargon and customs. For example, the Associated Press reported on how mission team members communicate with one another in a language that only vaguely resembles English. An example, from the article: “MER-A ratted Adirondack yestersol while solar groovy, even though it was high tau in Gusev.” While you might be able to understand, or guess at, some of the terms–“yestersol”, for example, refers to the previous Martian day, or sol–you’ll probably need to read the article to fully understand what that means.

Meanwhile, SPACE.com reports on the tradition to play wake-up songs in mission control at the beginning of reach rover’s day. NASA follows a similar tradition for space shuttle missions, playing a song each morning as the crew wakes, but in this case the songs are for the benefit of the controllers on the ground and not the rovers themselves. The choice of songs reveals the flight controllers have healthy senses of humor: the day they reformatted the memory on one rover that was experiencing computer problems, the sing choice was “Wipe Out”.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to MIT Technology Review.
  • Print + All Access Digital {! insider.prices.print_digital !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    The best of MIT Technology Review in print and online, plus unlimited access to our online archive, an ad-free web experience, discounts to MIT Technology Review events, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

    6 bi-monthly issues of print + digital magazine

    10% discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

    Ad-free website experience

    The Download: newsletter delivered daily

  • All Access Digital {! insider.prices.digital !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    The digital magazine, plus unlimited site access, our online archive, and The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Unlimited access to all our daily online news and feature stories

    Digital magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Access to entire PDF magazine archive dating back to 1899

    The Download: newsletter delivered daily

  • Print Subscription {! insider.prices.print_only !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six print issues per year plus The Download delivered to your email in-box each weekday.

    See details+

    12-month subscription

    Print magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    The Download: newsletter delivered daily

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.