Artist's concept of all five vehicles in the Mars Sample Return mission, a rover, a lander, an orbiter, a helicopter and a rocket. The helicopter is highlighted in this image.
Mars Sample Return Concept Illustration: This illustration shows a concept for one of two NASA helicopters that would provide a secondary capability to pick up additional samples stashed on the surface on Mars by the Perseverance rover.

The Sample Recovery Helicopters are modeled after the successful Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, carried to the Red Planet by NASA's Mars Perseverance rover. These specialized rotorcraft would be a secondary method of sample retrieval for the NASA/(ESA) European Space Agency’s Mars Sample Return Campaign. Currently, the Perseverance rover, which has already been collecting a diverse set of scientifically curated samples for potential safe return to Earth, is planned as the primary method of delivering samples to the Sample Retrieval Lander. The Sample Recovery Helicopters would expand on Ingenuity's design, adding wheels and gripping capabilities to pick up cached sample tubes left on the surface by Perseverance and transport them to the Sample Retrieval Lander.

Tech Specs

About the size of Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, which has a rotor span of ~4 feet (~1.2 meters)
~2.3 kilograms
~5 pounds on Earth
~1.9 pounds on Mars
~20.47 inches (~52 centimeters)
Solar panels that charge internal lithium-ion batteries
~11 mph (~5 meters per second)
Flight Range
~2,300 feet (700 meters)
Flight Altitude
~66 feet (20 meters)
Flight Environment
Mars' thin atmosphere, less than 1% the density of Earth's atmosphere
Four wheels about 0.8 inches (2 centimeters) wide, with an outer diameter of about 3.94 inches (10 centimeters)
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