NASA and LEGO continue strong partnership with LEGO Perseverance and Ingenuity models

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA-JPL) engineers are busy keeping the Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter running in Jezero Crater on Mars, as these robotic explorers continue the search for ancient microbial life on the Red Planet. But some of those same engineers have also been busy working with LEGO designers on new one-tenth scale LEGO Technic buildable models of these same robotic explorers with the aim of inspiring the next generation of NASA scientists and engineers.

The collaborative effort demonstrates NASA’s ongoing commitment to working with the private sector to share ideas and technical expertise through JPL’s Technology Affiliate Program and Caltech’s Office of Technology Transfer and Corporate Partnerships. For this new STEM-themed LEGO kit, LEGO designers sought to learn about the engineering aspects of Perseverance and Ingenuity to design and build the most accurate LEGO models.

Our missions to Mars started decades ago with such a big idea; many thought it was impossible. Today, we’ve successfully landed rovers and even a helicopter on Mars to explore the climate, geology and possibilities for life on the Red Planet, JPL Director Laurie Leshin said in a June 22 statement. At JPL, we dream big and push the boundaries as we seek to answer awe-inspiring scientific questions. I hope these types of toys spark the same spirit of exploration in children that we have here at NASA JPL.

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NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover used the WATSON camera on its robotic arm to capture an Ingenuity helicopter selfie on April 6, 2021 from an approximate distance of 3.9 meters (13 feet) from the rover. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems)

NASA and LEGO have a rich history of partnership dating back to the 1990s designing and building LEGO sets to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers. These include models of the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander, Space Shuttle Discovery and Hubble, Saturn V, James Webb Space Telescope, Rocket Launch Center and most recently announced the potential for a LEGO moon map.

LEGO figures have even been sent into space, as NASA’s Juno mission to Jupiter had LEGO figures of the Roman god Jupiter, his wife Juno, and Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei attached to the spacecraft. Most recently, four LEGO figures flew on the Artemis I mission.

LEGO figures representing the Roman god Jupiter, his wife Juno and Galileo are shown aboard the Juno spacecraft. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/KSC)
LEGO minifigure poses for a photo in front of the European Service Module that will provide power to the Orion spacecraft during NASA’s Artemis II mission, scheduled to fly in November 2024. Four LEGO minifigures flew on the official Artemis mission flight kit I from NASA, carrying keepsakes for educational outreach and posterity. (Credit: NASA/Radislav Sinyak)

The Perseverance rover with the Ingenuity helicopter on board landed in Jezero crater on February 18, 2021 and helped provide new insight into what ancient Mars might have been like billions of years ago. During its nearly two-and-a-half years on the Red Planet, Perseverance traveled 18.87 km (11.72 miles) collecting samples and dropping sample tubes in preparation for a one-day Mars Sample Return mission. The Ingenuity helicopter made its maiden flight to Mars on April 19, 2021 and completed 51 flights amassing 91.4 minutes of flight time over 7.3 miles (11.7 km) and flying up to 18.0 m (59. 1 feet).

What new LEGO sets will inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers over the next few years and decades? Only time will tell, and that’s why we do science!

As always, keep doing the science and keep looking up!

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