Good luck trying to spot NASA’s tiny Mars helicopter in this Rover image

Good luck trying to spot NASA’s tiny Mars helicopter in this Rover image

Good luck trying to spot NASA's tiny Mars helicopter in this Rover image

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This story is part Welcome to Marsour series exploring the red planet.


NASA’s Perseverance rover isn’t alone in Jezero Crater on Mars. Its outperforming companion, the Ingenuity helicopter, continues to fly. Percy is an avid photographer, but he hasn’t taken many photos of elusive ingenuity. There’s a new snapshot of the helicopter, but it’ll take all your imagery skills to find it in the Martian landscape.

The image comes from one of the rover’s mast-mounted cameras on January 8, just days after the rotorcraft completed its 38th flight. The view shows a wide rocky expanse of Jezero as well as visible wheel tracks left by the rover. Undulating sand dunes appear in the distance.

Ingenuity’s latest aerial jaunt carried him 363 feet (110 meters) across Mars for a repositioning flight. The helicopter team tries to keep it reasonably close to Percy so the two can stay in communication.

At first, you might doubt that Ingenuity is really into the rover picture. Keep in mind that the main body of the rotorcraft is about the size of a tissue box. Expand the view to increase your chances of finding Ingenuity:

Expand this view of the Perseverance rover and see if you can find NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/Processing by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Still looking? Here is another clue. NASA’s map of the current locations of the rover and helicopter gives a good overview of the Martian terrain. Judging by the satellite view, you can specify where Ingenuity appears in the photo.

This cropped view shows part of Jezero crater with part of the Perseverance rover’s journey marked in white lines. The rover’s location at Sol 670 is marked in blue. Ingenuity’s location is also marked with a blue icon facing up.


Ingenuity is a story maker that represents the first powered and controlled flight on another planet. It first took to the Martian air in April 2021 and has long outlasted its expected lifespan. NASA wasn’t sure it would even fly once, but now it’s racked up dozens of flights.

Still looking? Here is:

Ingenuity relaxes on a sand dune on Mars.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/Image processing by Amanda Kooser/CNET

If you enlarge the image and increase the contrast, you can make out Ingenuity’s slanted legs and boxy body.

I scroll through Percy’s Mars images almost daily, but didn’t notice the helicopter until the Twitter user DejaSu pointed it out. “Ingenuity in the closest/best view we’ve seen in quite a while, safely on Flight 38 landing zone on the side of a shallow sand ripple, ~280m NNE,” tweeted DejaSu.

For more fun, you can try DejaSu’s Cross-Eyed 3D Image by looking at both images and then crossing your eyes to reveal a 3D version. I can make it work with eye strain effort.

Mars is full of natural wonders, from a rock that looks like a cat has a face-like cliff. But some of the most amazing objects are the ones humanity has sent there. Like a helicopter. On Mars.


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