Paradise on Mars

Two years ago, America mourned the loss of Paradise to the deadliest and most destructive fire in the history of California. The Camp Fire will remain as the epitome of struggle and darkness for many years to come; however, every cloud has a silver lining, as the saying goes. This time, the silver lining is that those who lost their lives in the Camp Fire will be forever honored in space by NASA through their Perseverance Rover currently on Mars.

The Perseverance rover, which was built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and landed on Mars on February 18, brought along with it the names of all 86 people who perished as a result of the Camp Fire, along with the words “Paradise Strong” and “The Town of Paradise” engraved onto two chips the size of a quarter then placed onto the spacecraft, according to ABC news.

Jonas Tinsley, a junior at Pleasant Valley High School and a survivor of the Camp Fire, felt that it was “kinda cool that such a small town could be honored in such a big way. It definitely would have meant a lot to the 86 who lost their lives in the fire”.

According to a report by ABC News, Jerry Stoces, a NASA representative, commemorated the occasion by coming to paradise to deliver a plaque to Paradise Town Hall and visit local schools to talk about the Perseverance rover. This is not the only tribute that those at NASA and JPL have for Paradise. The Paradise Strong emblem will also be posted in mission control as the rover collects samples during its time on Mars.

The fire had personal meaning to Stoces as his close childhood friend lived in paradise but managed to escape the fire safely. Stoces states that the “NASA [and JPL] team were very touched by how many lives were affected by this fire” and have decided to do something special to honor the town and its strength for persevering through difficult times.

The Perseverance rover will continue to collect samples of three to four dozen rocks in Jezero Crater, what many scientists believe is the most promising place for the rover to find evidence of life until a retrieval rover can be sent to send the samples back to earth as soon as a decade from now. Scientists hope to answer one of the biggest questions plaguing space travel with the Perseverance rover.

This was not the only message brought to Mars by the Perseverance rover, however. The rover also carries a plaque that depicts an image of Earth above the rod of Asclepius, a symbol of healing and honoring the work of first responders and healthcare workers. It has also been revealed that the parachute used to land the Perseverance rover on Mars used binary code in its pattern. When translated, the message becomes “Dare Mighty Things,” a common saying at Jet Propulsion Labs and fitting for the rover named Perseverance.