Mars Helicopter


AeroVironment’s team of innovative engineers from our MacCready Works Advanced Solutions team worked with NASA/JPL to design and develop a helicopter carried by the Mars rover, Perseverance. The helicopter's name is Ingenuity, and its purpose is to demonstrate the viability of aerial robots for planetary exploration.

The vehicles arrived on Mars in February 2021. Within two months of landing on the surface of Mars, and after traveling 330 meters from its landing site, Perseverance deposited Ingenuity onto Martian soil, where it successfully attempted its maiden voyage – The first flight of an aircraft on another celestial body. Its short hop over the surface of the Red Planet marked a giant leap for robotic technology.


February 18 2021

Ingenuity Atmospheric Test

The second flight test of EDM1 in the 25 foot space simulator at Mars atmosphere. The vehicle has a gravity offload tether to mimic Mars gravity (1/9/2018)

Ingenuity Deployment Test

Test of delivery of Ingenuity with the Mars Helicopter Deployment System. First the dust cover is released, then the lower launch lock is released allowing the helicopter to rotate down. The legs are released and then the helicopter is dropped to the surface.

Installing Ingenuity

Installing Ingenuity onto the belly pan of the rover. The belly pan is then installed, as a unit, onto the rover.

Pitch Bearing Inspection

Ben Pipenberg, AeroVironment Aeromechanical Engineer, Sr., inspecting Ingenuity’s pitch bearings after a test.

Technical Specs

1.8 kilograms
4 pounds on Earth; 1.5 pounds on Mars
Total length of rotors: ~4 feet (~1.2 meters) tip to tip
Solar panel charges Lithium-ion battery, providing enough energy for up to 170 seconds of flight time
Blade Span
Just under 4 feet (1.2 meters)
Flight Range
Up to 2,050 feet (625 meters)
Flight Altitude
Up to 33 feet (10 meters)
Flight Environment
Thin atmosphere,
less than 1% as dense as Earth's

Ingenuity Facts

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.
July 30, 2020
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
Delivery Date on Mars
February 18, 2021
Landing Site
Jezero Crater, Mars
Length of Mission
One or more flights within 30 days
First Flight
April 19, 2021

Image & Video Credits: Courtesy of NASA/JPL–Caltech