NASA’s Mars Helicopter Opens the Door for Flight on Other Worlds


On April 19, 2021, a toaster oven-size helicopter named Ingenuity spun its rotors and rose 10 feet above the surface of Mars, becoming the first craft to perform a powered flight on a world beyond Earth. It won’t be the last.

Three more extraterrestrial fliers are already under development at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and other space agencies, and many more uncrewed copters, hoppers and floating machines are on drawing boards. These aerial robots could survey the clouds of Venus, search for life on Saturn’s moon Titan and scout out resources for Mars astronauts who might arrive in the late 2030s.