In this article, we will cover technical details, specifications, and design parameters of Ingenuity.

Aircraft certification of Ingenuity to fly on Mars
Aircraft certification of Ingenuity to fly on Mars

Key Features

  • Weighs 1.8 kg (4 lbs)
  • Solar-powered and recharges on its own
  • Wireless communication system
  • Contra-rotating blades spin about 2,400 rpm
  • Equipped with computers, navigation sensors, and two cameras (one color and one black-and-white)

The helicopter uses contra-rotating coaxial rotors about 1.2 m (4 ft) in diameter. Its payload is a high-resolution downward-looking camera for navigation, landing, and science surveying of the terrain, and a communication system to relay data to the Perseverance rover. Although it is an aircraft, it was constructed to spacecraft specifications in order to endure the g-force and vibration during launch. It also includes radiation-resistant systems capable of operating in the frigid environment of Mars. The inconsistent Mars magnetic field precludes the use of a compass for navigation, so it uses a solar tracker camera integrated into JPL’s visual-inertial navigation system. Some additional inputs include gyros, visual odometry, tilt sensors, altimeter, and hazard detectors. It was designed to use solar panels to recharge its batteries, which are six Sony Li-ion cells with 35–40 Wh (130–140 kJ) of battery energy capacity (nameplate capacity of 2 Ah).

Ingenuity on sol 48
Ingenuity on sol 48

The helicopter uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor with a Linux operating system. The Qualcomm processor is connected to two flight-control microcontroller units (MCUs) to perform the necessary flight-control functions. The communication system is designed to relay data at 250 kbit/s over distances of up to 1,000 m (3,300 ft).

We have been hearing so much about Ingenuity, do you know who named it? It was named Ingenuity by Vaneeza Rupani, a girl in the 11th grade at Tuscaloosa County High School in Northport, Alabama, who submitted an essay into NASA’s “Name the Rover” contest.

Ingenuity Flights

Ingenuity was intended to fly up to five times during its 30-day test campaign scheduled early in the rover’s mission. Primarily technology demonstrations, each flight was planned to fly at altitudes ranging from 3–5 m above the ground for up to 90 seconds each. The expected lateral range was exceeded in the third flight, the flight duration was exceeded in the fourth flight. This was later designated as the first phase of its mission, to demonstrate the possibility of flight. The second phase was later designated (after successful completion of that mission) as a demonstration of the operational possibilities for Mars exploration and conquest.

First Flight of Ingenuity

First Flight
Date: April 19, 2021
Duration: 39.1 seconds
Peak Altitude: 3 m
Total Distance Moved: 0 m
Flight Route: Vertical takeoff, stationary hover, landing

Flight Objectives

  • Start the Technology Demonstration Phase
  • Takeoff up to a height of 3.0 m (10 ft)
  • Hovering
  • Rotating clockwise in place (yaw from 0 to +90°)
  • Landing
Second Flight

Second Flight

Date: April 22, 2021
Duration: 51.9 seconds
Peak Altitude: 5 m
Total Distance Moved: 4.3 m
Flight Route: Vertical takeoff, hover, shift Westwards, hover, return, hover, landing

Flight Objectives

  • Start horizontal motion with max airspeed 0.5 m/s after takeoff up to a height of 4.9 m (16 ft)
  • Stop horizontal motion
  • Take snapshots using horizon facing colour camera
  • Rotating counterclockwise in place (yaw from +90° to 0° to -90° to -180°, in 3 steps)
  • Land in same place of takeoff after moving
  • Counterbalance lateral wind pull

Third Flight

Date: April 25, 2021
Duration: 80 seconds
Peak Altitude: 5 m
Total Distance Moved: 100 m
Flight Route: Vertical takeoff, hover, shift Northwards with a max airspeed of 2 m/s, hover, return, hover, landing

Flight Objectives

  • Start horizontal motion with max airspeed 2.0 m/s instead of 0.5 m/s while maintaining almost the same height to which it was flown on second flight
  • Land in same place of takeoff after taking a roundtrip ranging up to 50 m (164 ft) North of takeoff site

Fourth Flight

Fourth Flight

Date: April 30, 2021
Duration: 117 seconds
Peak Altitude: 5 m
Total Distance Moved: 266 m
Flight Route: Vertical takeoff, hover, shift Southwards with a max airspeed of 3.5 m/s, hover, return, hover, landing

Flight Objectives

  • Start horizontal motion with max airspeed 3.5 m/s instead of earlier 2.0 m/s while maintaining almost the same height to which it was flown on second flight
  • Land in same place of takeoff after taking a roundtrip up to 133 m (436 ft) South of takeoff site
  • Take black and white images for every 1.2 m (4 ft) while travelling between 84 m (276 ft) and 133 m (436 ft) and taking color images while hovering at the point on 133 m (436 ft) before returning to the takeoff site to create a 3D map.

This is the first interplanetary spacecraft whose sound was heard and recorded by another interplanetary spacecraft, Perseverance Rover.

Fifth Flight

Date: April 30, 2021
Duration: 108 seconds
Peak Altitude: 10 m
Total Distance Moved: 129 m
Flight Route: Vertical takeoff, hover, shift Southwards with a max airspeed of 3.5 m/s, rise to 10 m (33 ft), hover, landing at that spot

Flight Objectives

  • First flight without return to the initial take off site. Landing on a new site
  • Rise up to 10 m (33 ft) above the new landing site
  • End the technology demonstration phase

All the above five flights were grouped in the “Technology Demonstration” Phase and 13 more flights were carried out which were grouped in the “Operation Demonstration” Phase.


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