Mars    Helicopter

Quick Facts


Artist's concept of the Mars Helicopter

Name Ingenuity
Main Job A technology demonstration to test the first powered flight on Mars. The helicopter will ride to Mars attached to the belly of the Perseverance rover.
Launched July 30, 2020
Launch Location Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
Landing Feb. 18, 2021
Landing Site Jezero Crater, Mars
Length of Mission One or more flights within 30 days
Fact Sheet ›

Taking Flight on Another World

The Mars Helicopter, Ingenuity, is a technology demonstration to test powered flight on another world for the first time. It is hitching a ride on the Perseverance rover. A series of flight tests will be performed over a 30-Martian-day experimental window that will begin sometime in the spring of 2021. For the very first flight, the helicopter will take off a few feet from the ground, hover in the air for about 20 to 30 seconds, and land. That will be a major milestone: the very first powered flight in the extremely thin atmosphere of Mars! After that, the team will attempt additional experimental flights of incrementally farther distance and greater altitude. After the helicopter completes its technology demonstration, Perseverance will continue its scientific mission.

Images

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."
- Leonardo Da Vinci

5 Things to Know

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First test of powered flight on another planet.

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Built to be light and strong enough to stow away under the rover while on the way to Mars, and survive the harsh Martian environment after arriving on the surface. The helicopter weighs less than 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms).

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Powerful enough to lift off in the thin Mars atmosphere. The atmosphere of Mars is very thin: less than 1% the density of Earth's.

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The helicopter may fly for up to 90 seconds, to distances of almost 980 feet (300 meters) at a time and about 10 to 15 feet from the ground. That's no small feat compared to the first 12-second flight of the Wright Brothers' airplane.

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The helicopter flies on its own, without human control. It must take off, fly, and land, with minimal commands from Earth sent in advance.

How the Helicopter is Released

Ingenuity will hitch a ride on the Perseverance rover's belly, covered by a shield to protect it during the descent and landing. Once at a suitable spot on Mars, the shield covering beneath the rover will drop. Then, the team will release the helicopter in several steps to get it safely onto the surface.

Anatomy of the Mars Helicopter

'Hover' or 'click' on the orange dots to learn about the parts on the Mars Helicopter.

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Mars Helicopter Artist's Concept

Antennas

Radio antennas talk to Earth via the Mars 2020 rover and the Mars orbiters. x

Solar Panel

A solar panel helps keep the battery charged. x

Avionics & Body

Its avionics — or "brains" — help the helicopter function and navigate. The body has insulation and heaters to keep sensitive electronics warm and survive cold Martian nights. x

Sensors & Cameras

Sensors collect data on how fast the helicopter is traveling and in which direction. Cameras help the helicopter see. x

Blades

Made of carbon fiber foam core provide lift in the thin Mars atmosphere. x

Batteries

Batteries help power the helicopter. x

Legs

Ultra-light legs made of carbon fiber tubes help it land after flight. x

Tech Specs

Mass 1.8 kilograms
Weight 4 pounds on Earth; 1.5 pounds on Mars
Width Total length of rotors: ~4 feet (~1.2 meters) tip to tip
Power Solar panel charges Lithium-ion batteries, providing enough energy for one 90-second flight per Martian day (~350 Watts of average power during flight)
Blade span Just under 4 feet (1.2 meters)
Flight range Up to 980 feet (300 meters)
Flight altitude Up to 15 feet (5 meters)
Flight environment Thin atmosphere, less than 1% as dense as Earth's