Twin Rover Twins
The engineering models of both the Curiosity Mars rover (foreground) and the Perseverance Mars rover share space in the recently expanded garage at the Mars Yard. Curiosity's Earthy double is called MAGGIE, short for Mars Automated Giant Gizmo for Integrated Engineering; Perseverance's double goes by OPTIMISM (Operational Perseverance Twin for Integration of Mechanisms and Instruments Sent to Mars).
The Mars Yard simulates Martian terrain and has served as a testing ground for many fully-engineered rover twins – from the very first, tiny Sojourner that landed on Mars in 1997 to the Spirit and Opportunity missions that began in 2004 to the Curiosity and Perseverance rovers exploring Mars today. Each is generically referred to as a vehicle system test bed.
A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).
Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.
For more about Perseverance: