This summer, NASA plans to launch its next Mars rover, Perseverance, which will carry with it the first aircraft to ever fly on another planet, the Mars Helicopter. As the first of its kind, the Mars Helicopter will carry no instruments and collect no data — NASA describes merely flying it all as “high-risk, high-reward” research.
The Mars Helicopter will hitch a ride on the Perseverance rover’s belly, covered by a shield to protect it during the descent and landing. Once at a suitable spot on Mars, the shield covering beneath the rover will drop. Then, the team will release the Helicopter in several steps to get it safely onto the surface.