December 12, 2022

A model Sample Recovery Helicopter drives and positions itself over a sample tube during a test in the Mars Yard at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

Two Sample Recovery Helicopters are slated to fly to Mars as part of the Mars Sample Return campaign. NASA is developing the Sample Recovery Helicopters to serve as backups to the agency’s Perseverance rover in transporting sample tubes to the Sample Retrieval Lander.

These helicopters are follow-ons to NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which arrived at the Red Planet in the belly of Perseverance in February 2021. The Sample Recovery Helicopters have wheels instead of feet, as well as a small manipulator arm with a two-fingered gripper capable of carrying precious sample tubes.

Testing of the Sample Recovery Helicopters is ongoing. The testbed was made by AeroVironment Inc.

The Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was built by JPL, which also manages the project for NASA Headquarters. It is supported by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley, and NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, provided significant flight performance analysis and technical assistance during Ingenuity’s development. AeroVironment, Qualcomm, and SolAero also provided design assistance and major vehicle components. Lockheed Martin Space designed and manufactured the Mars Helicopter Delivery System.



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