How Much Does Perseverance Weigh? NASA Mars Rover Sizes Compared

The Perseverance rover has now been on the surface of Mars for some 47 days following its high-profile landing on February 18.

Since then the rover has sent back thousands of raw images, along with sound recordings using its microphones and multiple cameras onboard.

Perseverance can be seen in many of these images, but it is hard to get a sense of how big and heavy the robot is without a point of reference on the red planet.

Perseverance is actually about the size of a small SUV, measuring 10 feet in length, nine feet wide, and seven feet tall. It also weighs 2,260 pounds in Earth’s gravity—about twice as heavy as a grand piano. So how does this compare to the rovers that had come before it?

Perseverance scientists
Engineers working on Perseverance, December 2019. The photo shows the scale of the rover, which is taller than most people.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Curiosity

Curiosity was NASA‘s last robot to touch down on Mars before Perseverance did. It touched down on August 2012 and is still operating on the surface today, on a different part of the planet.

In terms of size and weight, Curiosity is quite similar to Perseverance, but packs more scientific instruments onboard. Both rovers also have the same top speed of around 0.09 miles per hour.

Like Perseverance, Curiosity is also 10 feet long, nine feet wide, and seven feet tall. Curiosity is lighter, though, weighing about 1,982 lbs.

According to engineering magazine IEEE Spectrum, much of Perseverance’s extra weight comes from its bulkier robotic arm.

Curiosity has 10 separate scientific instruments onboard compared to Perseverance’s seven, but Perseverance has more cameras and microphones.

Spirit and Opportunity

Spirit and Opportunity were two twin NASA rovers that landed on opposite sides of Mars in 2004 as part of the same mission.

They were significantly smaller and lighter than both Curiosity and Perseverance, weighing in at just 384 pounds each.

NASA describes the rovers as around the size of a golf cart. Each was about 5.2 feet long and 4.9 feet tall.

Both of the rovers carried exactly the same scientific instruments, including cameras and rock examination tools.

Spirit and Opportunity are now inactive but far exceeded their projected mission length. NASA had planned for them to last just 90 days, but Spirit lasted more than six years and Opportunity went on for 15 years before it was engulfed in a Martian sandstorm.

NASA Mars rovers
NASA engineers next to models of Curiosity on the right, Spirit/Opportunity on the left, and Sojourner on the bottom-left. Photo posted Jan 19, 2012.
NASA/JPL-Caltech

Sojourner

Sojourner was the first and smallest of the NASA rovers to arrive on Mars, landing in 1997 as part of the Pathfinder mission.

Sojourner was tiny compared to Perseverance; about the same size as a microwave oven or a milk crate.

With its solar panels, six wheels and onboard camera, Sojourner altogether weighed just 25 pounds and traveled at a top speed of 0.02 miles per hour.

Research conducted using Sojourner helped scientists understand that Mars used to be a warmer and wetter planet than it is today.

As tends to be the case, Sojourner far exceeded its planned mission length. NASA projected the little rover to operate for about a week, but it ended up working for around 85 Earth days (or 83 Martian Sols).

Sojourner on Mars
A photo shows Sojourner on the surface of Mars, taken by the Pathfinder lander in 1997.
NASA/JPL