Try to spot the NASA Mars rover in this Ingenuity helicopter snapshot


The Ingenuity helicopter snapped this image of Mars during its 11th flight on Aug. 4. The Perseverance rover is hiding somewhere in the photo.


This story is part of Welcome to Mars, our series exploring the red planet.

Think you have keen eyes? You’re going to need all your visual acuity to spot NASA’s Perseverance rover hiding out in a Mars landscape photo snapped by the Ingenuity helicopter. 

The rotorcraft was acting as a Martian landscape scout on Aug. 4 when it managed to capture the rover in the distance across an expanse of sand dunes and rocks. The picture comes from Ingenuity’s 11th flight. You’ll have to look carefully to make out the rover among the rocky outcrops.

“Ingenuity’s aerial images are awesome — but even better when you get to play ‘Where’s Perseverance?’ with them,” NASA JPL senior systems engineer Robert Hogg said in a statement Wednesday. If you zoom in, you can make out the rover’s wheels and mast.

Still looking? NASA gave some instructions for finding the rover, which the helicopter spotted from about 1,600 feet (500 meters) away and 39 feet (12 meters) up in the air. Start with Ingenuity’s shadow at the bottom of the picture. Trace a line straight up and look for the bright white speck just to the right of center.

Here’s what it looks like when you zoom in and crop the image:

The bright white spot marks the Perseverance rover in this zoomed-in Ingenuity helicopter photo from Aug. 4, 2021.


Ingenuity has gone from demonstrating the first powered, controlled flight on another planet to showing how an aerial machine can be used as a scouting companion to a land-bound rover. Part of its work is to take photos of interesting geology to help the rover team make decisions about where to explore in the Jezero Crater, an ancient lake bed.

This would be a great time to revisit your sense of awe for planetary exploration. It’s incredible to know we can look at a picture of Mars taken by a helicopter and spot a rolling laboratory that’s looking for signs of past microbial life. Wild.

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