When Ingenuity was released on the Martian surface in April 2021, Perseverance had to drive away to let the helicopter recharge its batteries with its solar panel.

Was there a concern that the rover could have experienced a fault, preventing it from driving away? What were the contingency measures in place in case that ever happened? I couldn’t find much information on this topic online. Thanks!


1 Answer 1


If that had happened, Ingenuity would have been trapped and unable to operate. It was built and launched as a "technology demonstrator," at very low cost by NASA spaceflight standards, only about $80M. Most of its electronics are commercial off-the-shelf parts, from the cell-phone industry.

Its mission was to demonstrate that autonomous flight on Mars was possible, and it is dependent on the rover for communications. It was not part of other mission objectives - since it might well have crashed on its first flight - and the rover being immobilised would have been a far more serious problem for the mission than the loss of the helicopter.

As things turned out, Ingenuity has been a surprisingly comprehensive success, and is now part of mission operations. It will probably crash someday, though.

  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I am pretty sure the answer is "nobody cared". Well, nobody outside the Ingenuity team at least. There are a gazillion rules in place to ensure that Ingenuity does not interfere with Perseverance's mission (such as a a keep-out zone around the rover), but not the other way around. You tend to make sure that your \$80 million mission does not interfere with your \$1 billion mission, not the other way around. $\endgroup$ Commented May 22, 2022 at 9:31
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah that makes sense. I remember during a press conference a mission operator mentioned that they had to really make sure the rover moved away since the helicopter couldn't stay for too long in the shade. This got me wondering whether there were additional measures in place (for that specific drive) to make sure that the rover moves even if a minor fault came up. $\endgroup$
    – olamarre
    Commented May 22, 2022 at 12:21

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