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. Since its maiden voyage, Ingenuity has far exceeded expectations by successfully completing more than 50 flights!


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


Initial Job
A technology demonstration to test the first powered flight on Mars. The helicopter rode 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
First Flight
April 19, 2021
Total Missions
Distance Flown
12,240 meters
Time Flown
95.5 minutes
SOLs Achieved Since Deployment

In the News

Ingenuity's 54th Flight

August 17, 2023

NASA's Perseverance Mars rover captured this video of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter's 54th flight on Aug. 3, 2023.

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IEEE Spectrum: What Flight 50 Means for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter

April 8, 2023

Flight 49, which took place last weekend, was its fastest and highest yet—the little helicopter flew 282 meters at an altitude of 16 meters, reaching a top speed of 6.50 meters per second. Not a bad performance for a tech demo that was supposed to be terminated two years ago.

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Incredible Image from Ingenuity

December 10, 2022

NASA's Ingenuity Mars Helicopter acquired this image using its high-resolution color camera during its 36th flight. This camera is mounted in the helicopter's fuselage and pointed approximately 22 degrees below the horizon.

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Ingenuity Replica Flown at Wright Brothers Memorial

August 19, 2022

The AV team did a public demonstration of a Ingenuity Mars Helicopter replica on National Aviation Day at the Wright Brothers Memorial. 

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NASA’s Pioneering Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Awarded Collier Trophy

April 5, 2022

The National Aeronautic Association has bestowed the prestigious Robert J. Collier Trophy on the team behind NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, cementing the pioneering rotorcraft’s place in aerospace history.

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How NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Was Developed for Mars Here on Earth

April 9, 2021

The WSJ goes inside the company that partnered with NASA to design and build an aircraft for a completely different atmosphere from Earth.

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A year After Landing on Mars, One-of-a-Kind Helicopter Developed in Ventura County Still Flying

February 24, 2022

"Ingenuity" helicopter far exceeding expectations; Chopper has now flown nearly four times more missions on Mars than originally planned.

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60 Minutes: How NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Was Developed for Mars Here on Earth

May 9, 2021

We first told you about the tiny helicopter Ingenuity and the one-ton rover Perseverance nearly a year ago before they left Earth, but they've come a very long way since then.

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