About the time when Perseverance landed on Big Red, the board of directors of Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory had reached the rather unspectacular general consensus that their initial hopes for the Curiosity Mars rover to function for at least one Martian year, or 687 Earth days, had been amply satisfied. The data sent back to Earth so far was judged invaluable.
Emboldened by these results, the board decided, still unspectacularly, to send another rover on a complementary mission to Mars, but covertly. Unlike its older twin, Spirit of Curiosity, or Soc, would conduct the exploration of the Red Planet’s surface through mathematical deduction based on data fed into its memory banks. An autonomous robot with an open-ended AI on Mars was then ruled spectacular enough to keep it secret. If anything went wrong and word got out, they could still say it was all about the original rover.