Lets Solve!

I figured I would start a project to crack the mystery that is

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On April 1st (april fools day) Hackaday redirected visitors to a mysterious screen (seen at that is obviously part of a prank/easter egg hunt/fun adventure. I figured we could log our progress cracking this mystery here. If you would like to be a project contributor, just let me know and I will add you.

Please post any new findings in the comments so I can make updates as we progress. I will also make you a contributor to help move this thing along!
  • Well that was fun :)

    John Boyd05/02/2014 at 16:14 2 comments

    For those of you who have not noticed, Hack A Day announced the competition to go to space! They have also been explaining in HaD posts how this whole ARG was a "pre-game party" for the announcement of their competition to go to space! Pretty sweet if you ask me. This will likely be the last project log, I just wanted to have one last update to conclude things for anyone reading this in the future.

    Hack A Day Official Explanations of ARG Transmissions:

  • Spoiler - Final Transmission - Major Tom's Diary

    mikeneiderhauser04/25/2014 at 14:58 0 comments

    For those who do not have Minecraft. (This was posted in the comments and taken from


    Herein are the

    Cronicles of






    2: No sooner do I publish details about my launch vehicle do I get slapped with a patent warning. Really, having the engine on the bottom of the rocket is patented?


    3: I have come up with a brilliant solution. While the current situation prevents me from putting the engines at the bottom of the rocket, the language used in the previous patents say nothing about putting the engines at the top of the rocket.


    4: I have moved the engines to the top, and the capsule to the bottom. Of course the vehicle will be rotated for launch, but all is well. In keeping with the patent warnings, I have now rotated all diagrams 180 degrees.


    5: The new vehicle design works brilliantly. Unfortunately, the lawyers do not see my solution as unique, and have filed suit in east Texas.


    6: Although I'm building for personal use the cease and desist letters are getting more and more aggressive.


    7: Able to stand it no longer, I have launched my space station months earlier than planned. Out of the jurisdication of any nation I should be safe to build whatever I want.


    8: So far the microgravity environment has proven challenging for a number of simple tasks. There is now solder flux in the atmospheric recyclers and using the CNC router causes a slight rotation in the station around the forward axis.


    9: I feel I am getting the hang of working in a zero gravity environment. I have noticed a small fault in the vehicle's abort switch which I believe to be a loose solder joint. This must be fixed befire I can continue my research.


    10: I have come up with an elegant solution to the abort switch problem. If the computer is manually placed into an abort condition, I may continue using the flight computer as it will never trigger an abort. Genius.


    11: There has been a main bus fault. Thrusters are gone, as is the navigation computer. Main computer will require extensive repairs.


    12: ex appiars i hazi s{exchih xdi xderh anh joyrxd haxa leni.

    # (it appears I have switched the third and fourth data line)


    13: The previous situation has been resolved, altough I am currently dealing with several other mechanical problems on the ship.


    14: I have repaired as much as I can inside the ship, but the repairs now require me to EVA and fix the remaining systems. I do no like extravehicular activities. Last time the comms circuit died.


    15: The problem on the exterior has been resolved, thanks to a few comms from a good friend back on the blue earth. The defective component was a 709, luckily I had the spares. Bob will get back to me on the cause of the failure.


    16: Some readings from my transmission testing leads me to think others have been decoding my communications. Who would take the time to intercept and decode all of my messages?


    17: I grow weary of both waiting and worrying. If rescued I plan to start my search for someone to replace me. Maybe a more skilled soul can keep this place running, without interfering with their quest for discovery.

  • Final Transmission

    John Boyd04/24/2014 at 00:42 6 comments

    For those of you who haven't noticed, the final transmission was posted a few days ago. The transmission was simply this picture:

    The numbers in the picture represent the IP address and port number:, which happens to be a minecraft server!

    On the server there is a myriad of puzzles for us to solve. It seems most of them have been solved, but it is still a lot of fun to go find them all!

    When a collection of photos has been gathered, I will post them here.

  • Transmission #03 Decoded: Launch site confirmed.

    John Boyd04/17/2014 at 18:45 0 comments

    Seems like the transmission has been decoded and we have a launch site confirmed. Its hard to keep track of who has done what, but the entire community has come together to solve this one. The words played back in the audio files listed below, were deciphered to reveal the geographic location of the Baikonur Cosmodrome Launch Facility.

    These are the MP3 files extracted from each image:

    Here is what the mp3's say:

    • 1.mp3: Earth, Farad
    • 2.mp3: Joule, Circuit
    • 3.mp3: Amp, Gain
    • 4.mp3: Electron, Capacitor
    • 5.mp3: Dialectric, Diode

    Taking the first letter as a number starting with A=0 we get the following numbers:

    45 92 06 42 33

    AKA the GPS coordinates: 45.920N, 63.342E

    Ground Control confirmed the launch site here.

    They left us with a parting phrase (possibly clue), "Suit up!" Is this a reference to the space suit Minecraft skin we found earlier in the transmission? It might be worth our while to keep a look out for a HaD minecraft server in the near future.

  • Decoding Transmission #3

    Tyler Anderson04/16/2014 at 06:33 0 comments

    Each of the images for Transmission #3 contains a block of hidden data at the end. Fire up a hex editor and search for FF D9. This indicates the end of a JPEG file. Everything after this is extra.

    Rocket Picture

    We can tell there is a PNG file hidden in the rocket picture because the extra block starts with ".PNG........IHDR" and ends with "IEND.B`." Heres the extracted image:

    Turns out its a space suit skin for Minecraft! View it at

    Telescope Pictures

    In each of the telescope pictures, the extra data starts with "Salted__". So this means its encrypted with OpenSSL. After copying the data to it's own file, you can decrypt it with...

    openssl enc -d -aes-256-cbc -in 1.bin -out 1.mp3 -pass pass:"Im floating in a most peculiar way"

    These are the MP3 files extracted from each image:

    Here is what the mp3's say:

    •  1.mp3: Earth, Farad
    • 2.mp3: Joule, Circuit
    • 3.mp3: Amp, Gain
    • 4.mp3: Electron, Capacitor
    • 5.mp3: Dialectric, Diode

    Theres also more data hidden in these recording. The MP3 metadata has the following comments:

    1. Transmission received at T-1090800.0222786265106846
    2. Transmission received at T-1090800.0296872268554892
    3. No transmission
    4. No transmission
    5. No transmission

    Also, if you have ffmpeg, try...

    ffplay 1.mp3 get a Real Discrete Fourier Transform

  • What we know (recap) T#1, T#2, T#3

    mikeneiderhauser04/15/2014 at 23:02 0 comments

    Here is a log of the recap from the ##hackaday IRC

    <mdn15> Lets do a little recap shall we (and please feel free to fill in where I may miss)


    <mdn15> Transmission 1: [Input Sources] Coordinates of telescopes.

    <mdn15> Test Block 1: "I'm floating in a most peculiar way"

    <mdn15> Test block 2 was the QR code that led to the Major Tom Page


    <mdn15> --Transmission 2--

    <mdn15> Video on HaD Page

    <mdn15> IP of telnet server

    <mdn15> bob widlar (username and password of server)

    <mdn15> Various messages from MrWildard

    <emerica_> ^ ignoring those

    <mdn15> (thats what I'm thinking, but still needs to be noted)

    <emerica_> indeed

    <mdn15> On the telnet server

    <mdn15> we found a key file and a puff the magic dragon file

    <emerica_> AGC

    <mdn15> correct

    <mdn15> as of now.. I feel AGC was to throw us a curve ball

    <mdn15> The keyfile and openpuff led us to a message in the Transmission 2 Image

    <rawe_t30> status.jpg?

    <mdn15> yes.. status.jpg

    <mdn15> the message resulted in


    "Current Status

     Inclination 52.3

     Altitude 439km

    O2 76.2%

    Could do with a lift guys.

    <mdn15> then we got this from ground control

    Major Tom, this is Ground Control. Message received.

     Rescue mission planned, crew selection progressing.

    Next communication at T-18180


    <mdn15> -- Transmission 3 (so far) --

    <mdn15> 5 images that (most likely) relate to T#1 on the main Hackaday page

    <mdn15> These images have some sort of SSL info embedded (files begin with Salted__)

    <mdn15> The pic on the T3# page had a PNG file embedded that contained a space suit as a minecraft skin

    <rawe_t30> this was the first image on with embedded info

    <emerica_> I dont know if the post number 119822 is relevant

    <emerica_> the next 8 bytes are the salt

    <emerica_> 8 right?

  • Transmission #03 is here

    John Boyd04/15/2014 at 16:08 4 comments

    Transmission #03 has been posted on Major Tom's Page, along with images of the target radio telescopes decoded from Transmission #01. So far there doesn't seem to be much progress deciphering this message, but check it out for yourself and see what you can find!

    Here is what a few people have found:

    1. Green Bank Telescope (National Radio Astronomy Obervatory) 

    2. Arecibo Observatory 

    3. LOFAR Superterp (Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy) 

    4. Ratan-600 (Special Astrophysical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences) 

    5. Effelsberg 100-m Telescope (Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy)

    Original GPS Coordinates:
    1. Arecibo Observatory
    2. Very Large Array (National Radio Astronomy Obervatory)
    3. Ratan-600 (Special Astrophysical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences)
    4. Effelsberg 100-m Telescope (Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy)
    5. LOFAR Test Field (Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy)

  • (Almost) Complete HD Dump

    cadeldarkon97904/10/2014 at 01:21 0 comments

    I dumped most of the hard drive into a tar.bz2 file, as I could not get all of it (bob doesn't have all the needed permissions). If you would like to chroot into a copy of the computer, this dump is perfect for that! I have uploaded it to DepositFiles and Skydrive.

    Link 1:

  • Transmission #02

    Emerica04/10/2014 at 01:06 1 comment

    Transmission #2 - Solving the video

    Transmission #2 - Server Contents

    Transmission #2 - Completing Decryption.

    I had spent most of my evening watching Apollo Navigation Computer videos, preparing for possible use of DSKY. 
    It seemed most people were still stuck on trying to find data in the images and video expecting more, and I was starting to think that it was all just a ploy to side track.
    All the video is, in my opinion, is an attempt to gain more attention for the event, and to expose the IP and the AUTH clues.
    It was on the site all day/night, bringing much more attention to those who many have missed it. 
    More help is always good :) 
    I don't think you can really expect any visual stenography to make it through Youtube's encoding process, with reliability.
    Audio is another story, but too complicated in my opinion to try and have the public find it 'easily enough'
    Transmission #1 was pretty simple, there is little reason that  this challenge should be magnitudes harder.

    Many of us have thought these images have hidden data in one way or another.
    How are we going to decode stenography it we can't verify what was used to encode it, without the algo(s) and the key(s), it seemed like a moot point to me. So I focused more on the AGC app.
    When Ben mentioned the email about the decryption not being complete, I knew that we had to take another look at the transmission 2 image.

    I opened it with a hex editor, this gave me  a header with Ducky in it, some googling returned this to be an Adobe save for web file. Ok onto the metadata,

    <br><span><?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?><br></span><span><x:xmpmeta xmlns:x="adobe:ns:meta/" x:xmptk="XMP Core 4.4.0-Exiv2"><br></span><span><rdf:RDF xmlns:rdf=""><br></span><span><rdf:Description rdf:about="" </span><span>xmlns:xmp="" </span><span>xmlns:xmpMM="" </span><span>xmlns:stRef="" </span><span>xmp:CreatorTool="Adobe Photoshop CS6 (Windows)" </span><span>xmpMM:InstanceID="xmp.iid:CF0B160FBE6B11E38995D5ABC046E8AD" </span><span>xmpMM:DocumentID="xmp.did:CF0B1610BE6B11E38995D5ABC046E8AD"> <br></span><span><xmpMM:DerivedFrom </span><span>stRef:instanceID="xmp.iid:CF0B160DBE6B11E38995D5ABC046E8AD" </span><span>stRef:documentID="xmp.did:CF0B160EBE6B11E38995D5ABC046E8AD"/> <br></span><span></rdf:Description> <br></span><span></rdf:RDF><br></span><span></x:xmpmeta></span>

    Not much here of use.....that I can gather anyway.
    I remembered the other image being a png. This being a jpg, other tools might work.
    Well back to google,  "xmp jpg stenography"

    first result: 

    OpenPuff - Steganography & Watermarking -

    I should have clicked I'm feeling lucky.
    I went back to IRC at this point and the chat log basically explains the rest.

    nope, currently trying to use the keyfile keys on the image in the transmission 2 page
    not sure which steno tool to use though
    any idea where that image came from?
    I tried reverse image search but it didn't turn up anything
    hmm, maybe original then?
    someone at HaD is not a bad artist then
    yeah its nice, but i'm growing tired of staring at it ;-)
    huh! looks like we're on the right track
    got an email from ground control
    Communication with Major Tom was initiated at 00:00 on 08/04/2014, transmission archive available here:
    The following...

    Read more »

  • Github Repository of Telnet Server

    John Boyd04/09/2014 at 06:05 0 comments

    Here is a Github repository with the home directory on the telnet server for those of you that would like easy access to all of the files.

View all 12 project logs

  • 1

    Review Previous Logs.

  • 2

    Join IRC channel ##hackaday on freenode. 

View all instructions

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jakaruni04 wrote 05/11/2014 at 09:07 point
how we can call people on space ship?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Sy Bernot wrote 05/01/2014 at 17:55 point
So this all culminates in this announcement:
That's a pretty sweet grand prize.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Lambda42 wrote 04/24/2014 at 20:35 point
After reading Tom's Diary in the End and seeing what I've seen around the world, I wonder if this is a recruiting campaign. The last page looks like some of the HaD guys may be leaving.

  Are you sure? yes | no

RodolpheH wrote 04/24/2014 at 21:39 point
"If rescued I plan to start my search for someone to replace me. Maybe a more skilled soul can keep this place running, without interfering with their quest for discovery." That's what makes me think that too.

  Are you sure? yes | no

redsquirrel_7 wrote 04/25/2014 at 14:34 point
Who do you suppose could be leaving?

  Are you sure? yes | no

DarylDee wrote 04/25/2014 at 16:27 point
Maybe something related to the mars mission?

  Are you sure? yes | no

redsquirrel_7 wrote 04/25/2014 at 21:14 point
Are you suggesting one of the HaD staff could be on the up coming mission to mars?

  Are you sure? yes | no

DarylDee wrote 04/26/2014 at 14:57 point
yeah! stargazin' : )

  Are you sure? yes | no

Sheldon wrote 04/24/2014 at 16:04 point
So those of us without MC (or a good enough internet connection), any chance someone could at least stick up some of the images for these marvellous locations that the HaD gang have created (and even some of the pixel art that's there would be nice)?

(Thank you to whoever added the IRC auto-logging, us peasants have not been entirely out the loop :-)

  Are you sure? yes | no

mikeneiderhauser wrote 04/29/2014 at 02:33 point
The auto logging was me. I also posted an album of pics from the server in one of the project logs.
I don't have much of the pixel art but I'm sure after judging that HaD will post something. The album below may or may not be missing some of the secret locations. Sorry it took so long but I wanted to wait for the countdown timer.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Sheldon wrote 04/29/2014 at 08:35 point
Thanks Mike (getting the early notice via the logger has been very cool - even the "keeping mum" on the annoucement :-)

  Are you sure? yes | no

mikeneiderhauser wrote 04/23/2014 at 02:48 point
Hidden arduino anyone?

  Are you sure? yes | no

mikeneiderhauser wrote 04/23/2014 at 02:03 point

  Are you sure? yes | no

John Boyd wrote 04/23/2014 at 02:04 point
Nice! Where was he?

  Are you sure? yes | no

mikeneiderhauser wrote 04/23/2014 at 02:36 point
In the end

  Are you sure? yes | no

jstylen wrote 04/22/2014 at 18:48 point
When you get to the end portal you can relog to avoid fall damage. Doesn't seem like the right way but it works.

  Are you sure? yes | no

mikeneiderhauser wrote 04/23/2014 at 02:03 point
recently fixed

  Are you sure? yes | no

johnowhitaker wrote 04/22/2014 at 17:32 point
Serious spoiler for those without minecraft: rawe transcribed a diary (Major Toms) -

  Are you sure? yes | no

redsquirrel_7 wrote 04/22/2014 at 14:22 point
They are totally building a spaceship guys! ;)

  Are you sure? yes | no

RodolpheH wrote 04/22/2014 at 16:27 point
Yeah I got the same thought about this !

  Are you sure? yes | no

RodolpheH wrote 04/22/2014 at 16:32 point
Could you explain a little bit how we should read this ? Perhaps you have already said it on the IRC (I couldn't connect at it today because I use tor at work) but I would like to know what about the resistors ?

  Are you sure? yes | no

mikeneiderhauser wrote 04/22/2014 at 16:47 point
The resistor codes are part of the puzzle. I am not too sure. I have not been on the server much. I will be on later this evening. You can view the IRC log (link to the left). It is updated every ~5mins.

  Are you sure? yes | no

crener wrote 04/22/2014 at 13:19 point

My guess is that Hackaday is going to try to communicate with this and that the announcement will be them telling us about there plan or asking for help with it.

  Are you sure? yes | no

RodolpheH wrote 04/22/2014 at 09:25 point
nmap scan : Minecraft 1.7.2 (Protocol: 127, Message: Find Majort Tom!, Users 2/100)

  Are you sure? yes | no

RodolpheH wrote 04/22/2014 at 09:17 point
Last transmission on home page of
Here is a link in case it's get removed :

  Are you sure? yes | no

tehaxor69 wrote 04/22/2014 at 09:18 point
It's a minecraft server

  Are you sure? yes | no

RodolpheH wrote 04/22/2014 at 05:52 point
I received a mail this morning from hackaday saying I won a badge for decoding #Transmission01. In the mail it is written "Sweet!" in hexadecimal. Anyone got it too ? I've never decoded #Transmission01, I'm just following the quest to see where it is going (and trying to participate when I can).

  Are you sure? yes | no


[this comment has been deleted]

John Boyd wrote 04/19/2014 at 10:12 point
This project page is dedicated to collating information relating to the mystery, and we are currently waiting for the next "Transmission" tuesday. Check out the project logs and the various transmission pages linked above to see how it all began

  Are you sure? yes | no

John Boyd wrote 04/18/2014 at 20:21 point
I wonder if they are planning to launch a satellite into space? A HaD satellite would be really cool, and in the realm of possibilities.

  Are you sure? yes | no

tehaxor69 wrote 04/18/2014 at 21:11 point
Very cool.

  Are you sure? yes | no

Beamsjr wrote 04/18/2014 at 19:28 point
the launch site is Baikonur, Vostok-2M launches occurred at Baikonur, which carried the Kosmos-1242 satellite which is supposed to fall to earth April 28th

  Are you sure? yes | no

dukctape wrote 04/18/2014 at 19:19 point
I don't wan't to be "that guy", but...
In all seriousness, it may be worth looking at the stars in the image. Could they indicate a location of some sort? Admittedly the transmission has already been decoded, but you never know...

  Are you sure? yes | no

John Boyd wrote 04/18/2014 at 14:28 point
I'm not an expert at this, but it looks like there is more info embedded at the end of this JPEG file. Anyone who knows better than me may want to take a look:

  Are you sure? yes | no

Emerica wrote 04/18/2014 at 19:00 point
It's a png :(

  Are you sure? yes | no

John Boyd wrote 04/18/2014 at 20:03 point
oh duh, im an idiot. I need to get some sleep, haha

  Are you sure? yes | no

Emerica wrote 04/18/2014 at 20:44 point
There is still hidden text in images though.
In today's post. I'm not sure I trust the author though haha :)
"Nice try, but there's no clues hidden here."

  Are you sure? yes | no

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