Digital Twins on Mars: The Perseverance Rover Story

Digital Twin Technology in Mars Rover Missions

Digital twin technology has been instrumental to enhancing the efficiency of NASA’s Mars rover projects. This story focuses on Perseverance Rover.

Early Simulations and Testing

NASA leveraged digital twins extensively throughout early development. Detailed virtual models of Perseverance Rover aided in anticipating and planning for the tremendous challenges the rover would face on Mars, according to

Landing Safely

NASA used digital twin technology to simulate complex sky crane technology to ensure the rover landed on the Red Planet in one piece.

HiL Simulations

NASA used MapleSim by Maplesoft for hardware-in-the-loop simulations of specific hardware components with other parts simulated as digital twins.

Soft Terrain Interaction Modeling

A research team from McGill University and Vortex simulated how the rover’s wheels would interact with soft patches on the Red Planet’s surface, according to Virtual Commissioning.

Earthly Twin

In September 2020, NASA introduced Perseverance Rover’s earthly twin, named OPTIMISM. The high-fidelity replica is used to simulate and test rover operations and troubleshooting.

Touchdown on Mars

After its launch in July 2020, the car-sized Percy rover landed in Mars’ Jezero crater in February 2021.


Percy’s earthly twin, OPTIMISM, lives side-by-side at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in southern California. “Now that we have OPTIMISM, the Perseverance mission is well equipped to learn what they need to succeed on Mars,” Matt Stumbo,, a system integration and test engineer at JPL, said in a NASA news release.

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