'Twins' of NASA's Perseverance Mars rover and Ingenuity helicopter are touring the US

An artist's depiction of the Ingenuity helicopter and Perseverance rover after the aircraft's deployment from the larger spacecraft's belly.
An artist's depiction of the Ingenuity helicopter and Perseverance rover after the aircraft's deployment from the larger spacecraft's belly. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

While NASA Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter explore Mars, life-size models of the intrepid rovers are on their own road trip on Earth to share the mission with the public.

NASA's "Roving With Perseverance" roadshow will see "twin" models of the Perseverance rover and its Ingenuity drone touch down at multiple U.S. locations in the coming months. Smaller-scale Perseverance rovers will also hit the road, and if you can't make any of these opportunities, a virtual tour of the rover testing grounds and support facilities is also available.

In photos: NASA's Mars Perseverance rover mission to the Red Planet

Perseverance landed on Mars on Feb. 18 with a mission to seek out potential Red Planet lifeforms. Assisted by the Ingenuity helicopter, which has now completed 15 flights on Mars, the mission is working to gather samples for a sample-return mission that would take place in the 2030s.

All tours are ongoing. Depending on the location, you may see digital displays simulating the Jezero Crater landing location for the mission, NASA Perseverance and Ingenuity scientists delivering in-person or virtual talks, or family-friendly science exhibits such as tabletop displays, rock collections and selfie stations, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory wrote in a statement. More details will be available at your local museum if it is hosting an exhibit.

The main tour dates will see the larger models stop at multiple U.S. locations; more tour dates may be added in the future, JPL said, and dates may be adjusted as pandemic restrictions evolve. The list of confirmed locations includes:

  • The Museum of Flight in Seattle (until April 3, 2022);
  • The National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia (Dec. 1, 2021 to Jan. 30, 2022)
  • The Exploratorium in San Francisco (Feb. 17, 2022 – May 30, 2022)
  • The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City (Feb. 18, 2022 – June 15, 2022)
  • The Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City (June 28, 2022 to Dec. 15, 2022)
  • The Adler Planetarium in Chicago (July 1, 2022 – Dec. 15, 2022)

A "selfie" of the Perseverance rover, which landed Feb. 18, 2021. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Smaller-scale Perseverance models will be available at the following locations between Oct. 30, 2021 and Mar. 15, 2022:

  • Challenger Learning Center of Kentucky, Hazard, Kentucky
  • Challenger Learning Center of Northern Nevada, Reno, Nevada
  • Columbia Memorial Space Center, Downey, California
  • Cradle of Aviation Museum, Garden City, New York
  • Frontiers of Flight Museum, Dallas

You can also catch the smaller-scale Perseverance at two locations between March 30, 2022 and Sept. 15, 2022: the Discovery Science Center in Springfield, Missouri, and EcoExploratorio in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

If you can't visit any of these various stops in person, there are new locations available on a virtual tour of JPL, including a "Mars yard" where engineers test out rover maneuvers and engineering to prepare for Red Planet work. The yard features the Operational Perseverance Twin for the Integration of Mechanisms and Instruments Sent to Mars (OPTIMISM) a full-scale "twin" rover of Perseverance.

The JPL tour now includes the Mars yard, a microdevices lab to test out technology for Martian missions, a fabrication shop where custom hardware is created, a view of High Bay 2 of JPL's spacecraft assembly facility, and the control room for the Deep Space Network that controls spacecraft across the universe, among other spots.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace