Perseverance and Ingenuity

A ground-breaking rover (literally it collects rocks) and a record-breaking helicopter are the newest residents of Mars since landing in 2021. 

Perseverance, the rover, seeks signs of ancient life and collect rock samples that may later be returned to Earth.

Ingenuity, the helicopter, made the first powered flight on another planet and went on to explore the Red Planet for almost three years.


The latest rover to land on Mars, Perseverance is exploring ancient lake and delta deposits to determine what the ancient lake was like and whether there are any preserved biosignatures related to life on Mars.

Nickname: Percy


Independent of the rover’s science mission, this helicopter made the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. While Mars has lower gravity at about one-third that of Earth, its atmosphere is only one percent as dense, which makes the helicopter’s task of getting off the ground much more difficult.

Nickname: Ginny


By the Numbers

Landed on Mars: February 18, 2021
Size: Car sized, 10 feet long (not including the arm), 9 feet wide, 7 feet tall
Earth weight: 2,260 pounds

About the Mission

This blog post was published in 2021 before Perseverance landed.

What's different about Perseverance?

This blog post was published in 2020 before Perseverance landed.

One Year of Perseverance

This blog post was published in February 2022.


By the Numbers

First Flight: April 19, 2021
Last Flight: January 18, 2024
Air Time: 72 flights completing 128.8 flying minutes covering 10.5 miles
Size: Less than 2 feet tall, with rotors stretching about 4 feet
Earth weight: About 4 pounds

Looking Forward to the First Flight

This blog post was published in April 2021. 

Six Months of Ingenuity

This blog post was published in October 2021. 

One Year of Ingenuity

This blog post was published in April 2022. 

At the Museum

In May 2016, the prototype Mars helicopter achieved the first powered, controlled free flight in simulated Mars atmospheric conditions. The test took place inside NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab's Space Simulator, a 25-foot-wide vacuum chamber that had been evacuated and backfilled with a thin carbon dioxide atmosphere similar to that found on Mars.

The prototype is now in the Museum's collection.   

More About Mars

Is There Life on Mars? (And How will Perseverance Help Us Figure It Out)

“Is there life on Mars?” is a question people have asked for more than a century. But in order to finally get the answer, we have to know what to look for and where to go on the planet to look for evidence of past life.

More About Previous Landers and Rovers

We’ve been exploring Mars with robotics since 1975—with landers, rovers, and a helicopter.

Imagining a Voyage to Mars

How have we imagined travelling to Mars? Check out this literary mix-tape of how travelling to Mars has been portrayed in science fiction.

Podcast Episodes about Mars

A selection of some of our favorite AirSpace podcast episodes about the Red Planet.

Educational Videos

STEM in 30

These clips and 30-minute full episodes are designed for middle school students to explore aviation and space topics. 

Watch the Full Episode Landing Site: Jezero Crater Looking for Life on Mars How the Rover is Built Seven Minutes of Terror


Join NASA’s Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen and the Smithsonian’s Dr. Ellen Stofan to talk about Perseverance in these short (less than 7 minute) videos recorded in 2020, before Perseverance landed on Mars.

The Path to Mars Preparing to Launch Launching to Mars Looking for Signs of Ancient Life

What's New in Aerospace Full Episodes

Join experts from the Museum and in different aerospace fields to discuss what’s happening at the moment in air and space. 

Mars Exploration and the Launch of Perseverance

Recorded in July 2020

Mars Rover Landing

Recorded in February 2021

Story Time for Young Learners

In "Flights of Fancy Storytime Online," the National Air and Space Museum offers stories for young children and their families inspired by our collection of air and space objects and historic photos. Educators Ann Caspari and Diane Kidd will tell stories, do sketches, and demonstrate crafts that you can enjoy together at home.

More Educational Resources Mo the Mars Man Mission to Mars