Hello,

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

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

Not an Insider? 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 and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/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.