Your random space fact for this week is about geocaching, a game kind of like a scavenger hunt that uses GPS receivers to find hidden containers full of trinkets whose coordinates have been posted on a website on the Internet. As you can imagine, the vast majority of geocaches are on the Earth, but did you know that there’s a geocache on the International Space Station? In 2008, Richard Garriott, one of the first space tourists, hid a geocache in locker #218 in the Russian segment. Not surprisingly, it has only been logged a couple of times since it was set up. If you happen to visit the ISS, maybe you can log geocache GE1BE91.
There are also things called travel bugs, which are items that geocachers “release” into a geocache, and people who find them can log them on the geocaching website and then move them along to another geocache. People turn all sorts of things into travel bugs, from little toys to backpacks to cars to rovers on Mars and even geocachers themselves. Yes, that’s right, even geocachers can become travel bugs. Who knew, right?
The SHERLOC instrument team at Johnson Space Center attached a travel bug tracking code to the Perseverance rover. One of the calibration targets used by SHERLOC’s WATSON camera is a one-inch glass disc that includes a travel bug tracking code on it. If you look through the raw images on NASA’s website and filter by SHERLOC and WATSON, you can find a picture of the calibration target and then “virtually” log the tracking code on the geocaching website. Happy caching!
The First Geocaching First-to-Find in Space (Geocaching)