Mars Rover Perseverance and Helicopter Ingenuity

An artists rendering of the Perseverance rover a six wheeled roving vehicle with a neck and camera attached, and a small drone like helicopter which accompanies it.
Meet the Dynamic Duo
Perseverance and Ingenuity

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

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

Ingenuity, the helicopter, will attempt the first powered flight on another planet. 

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The latest rover to land on Mars, "Percy" will explore 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.

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Independent of the rover’s science mission, "Ginny" will attempt 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.

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More About the Duo

The Smithsonian's Dr. Ellen Stofan and NASA’s Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen look back at the Mars Pathfinder mission and Sojourner rover. Discover the innovative elements of Mars 2020 (including a small solar-powered helicopter!) and what we hope to learn about the Red Planet next.

Dr. Ellen Stofan and Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen talk about the technological advancements of the newest Mars rover (and helicopter!).

We have been exploring the Red Planet through satellites, landers, and rovers for decades. The next step of that exploration is planned for February 2021 when NASA’s Perseverance rover (and Ingenuity helicopter) will land on the surface of Mars. 

We caught up with Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen at Kennedy Space Center for the July 2019 launch of the Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter.

About Perseverance

With the Perseverance rover set to land on Mars on February 18, 2021, we are finally in a position to know where to go, what to look for, and knowing whether there is, or ever was, life on the Red Planet.

After five years examining all the options for landing site, find out why Jezero crater was selected. 

Percy will attempt many firsts, and in doing so, it will help carve a new path for future robots and humans to follow, for as much as lies behind us, even more lies ahead.

Our AirSpace hosts will break down all the details of the mission, including soil sample caches and the very first helicopter on Mars.

Learn about the science behind NASA’s Perseverance rover with the Museum’s Dr. Ellen Stofan and NASA’s Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen.

A rendering of Perseverance exploring a crater.
Mission to Mars AR App

Drawing on the resources and research behind Smithsonian Channel’s documentary Making Tracks on Mars, Mission to Mars AR will allow anyone with a smartphone or tablet to participate in the mission through innovative augmented reality experiences grounded in the real equipment and events. Exploiting the latest technologies, the app will let viewers launch an Atlas V 541 rocket, interact with and drive “Percy” and its rover predecessors, fly the helicopter, and even step through a portal onto the planet to explore the present and future of Mars exploration.

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For Students

Out of thousands of submissions, Alex Mather's suggestion for the name of the Mars 2020 rover was chosen: Perseverance! Join student reporter Jaden Jefferson as he talks with Alex, the student who named the Mars Rover

Student reporter Jaden Jefferson talks to Jim Norman, director of launch services at NASA, about the launch of the Perseverance Mars rover.

In this Air and Space Live Chat, NASA engineers Kobie Boykins and Christina Hernández and curator Matthew Shindell talked about Perseverance as it made its way to Mars.

Our Flights of Fancy story time series helps young learners and their grown ups explore air and space through stories and new illustrations. 

Celebrate the landing with a live chat all about Mars, featuring Abigail Harrison, aka "Astronaut Abby," an aspiring astronaut and founder of "The Mars Generation."

Ask your questions about Perseverance and robotic exploration of Mars to scientists from the Museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies.

More About Mars