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Ingenuity

A small in-flight helicopter on Mars, with a square silver body the size of a tissue box, a pair of carbon fiber rotors, a rectangular solar panel on top, and four spindly legs on the bottom.
One small hover for the Mars helicopter has since become many. Photo: JPL-Caltech/NASA

Ingenuity is a small helicopter designed to fly on Mars. NASA originally planned to fly it five times over 30 days, but Ingenuity performed so well that it completed 72 flights over almost 3 years.

Creator

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Year
2020
Country
United States 🇺🇸
Categories
Features
First video of Ingenuity in flight. Video: NASA JPL

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Did you know?

Ingenuity has twice as much processing power as the Perseverance rover.

Black and white photo shows the shadow of Ingenuity on martian soil.
First flight, first shadow selfie. Don't I look great!? Photo: JPL-Caltech/NASA
The helicopter's four spindly legs touch done on Martian soil as it deploys from underneath a much larger rover.
Ingenuity can be seen here with all four of its legs deployed before dropping from the belly of the Perseverance rover on March 30, 2021. Photo: JPL-Caltech/NASA

History

Ingenuity is a technology demonstration project to test powered, controlled flight on another planet for the first time. Ingenuity was brought to Mars along with the Perseverance rover and was released once the rover found a suitable landing spot. The helicopter's first flight on April 19, 2021, was a major milestone: Ingenuity took off, climbed to around 10 feet (3 meters), made a turn, and then landed. It has since completed multiple successful flights on Mars to explore farther distances and altitudes. The project moved to a new phase that aimed to explore how future rovers and aerial explorers can work together. On its 72nd and final flight on January 18, 2024, Ingenuity sustained damage to one or more of its rotor blades during a rough landing.

A large ground rover and a small flying helicopter are seen on Mars.
Me and my favorite rover, Perseverance. JPL-Caltech/NASA
Black and white photo shows the shadow of Ingenuity on martian soil.
Sol 763 (days on Mars), and 50 flights in. JPL-Caltech-NASA

Specs

Overview

Fully autonomous. Solar powered. Built with open source software and commercial hardware.

Status

Ongoing

Year

2020

Website
Width
120 cm
Height
49 cm
Length
49 cm
Weight
1.8 kg
Speed
13 km/h
Sensors

Cellphone-grade IMU, laser altimeter, downward-pointing VGA camera, color camera.

Actuators

N/A

Degrees of Freedom (DoF)
3
Materials

Aluminum, carbon fiber.

Compute

Qualcomm Snapdragon 801.

Software

F Prime on Linux

Power

36 Wh lithium-ion battery pack, 90 seconds of flight.

Cost
US $85 million (total invested to design, build, test, and operate the robot)