NASA considered nearly 60 proposals for rover instrumentation. On 31 July 2014, NASA announced the seven instruments that would make up the payload for the rover:
There are additional cameras and two audio microphones (the first working microphones on Mars), that will be used for engineering support during landing, driving, and collecting samples.
Perseverance is planned to visit the bottom and upper parts of the 3.4 to 3.8 billion-year-old Neretva Vallis delta, the smooth and etched parts of the Jezero crater floor deposits interpreted as volcanic ash or aeolian airfall deposits, emplaced before the formation of the delta; the ancient shoreline covered with Transverse Aeolian Ridges (dunes) and mass wasting deposits, and finally, it is planned to climb onto the Jezero crater rim.
NASA plans to invest roughly US$2.75 billion in the project over 11 years, including US$2.2 billion for the development and build of the hardware, US$243 million for launch services, and US$291 million for 2.5 years of mission operations.
Adjusted for inflation, Perseverance is NASA's sixth-most expensive robotic planetary mission, though it is cheaper than its predecessor, Curiosity. Perseverance benefited from spare hardware and "build-to print" designs from the Curiosity mission, which helped reduce development costs and saved "probably tens of millions, if not 100 million dollars" according to Mars 2020 Deputy Chief Engineer Keith Comeaux.
NASA's "Send Your Name to Mars" campaign invited people from around the world to submit their names to travel aboard the agency's next rover to Mars. 10,932,295 names were submitted. The names were etched by an electron beam onto three fingernail-sized silicon chips, along with the essays of the 155 finalists in NASA's "Name the Rover" contest. The first name to be engraved was "Angel Santos." The three chips share space on an anodized plate with a laser engraved graphic representing Earth, Mars, and the Sun. The rays emanating from the Sun contain the phrase "Explore As One" written in Morse code. The plate was then mounted on the rover on 26 March 2020.
Part of Perseverance's cargo is a geocaching trackable item viewable with the SHERLOC's WATSON camera.
In 2016, NASA SHERLOC co-investigator Dr. Marc Fries — with help from his son Wyatt — was inspired by Geocaching's 2008 placement of a cache on the International Space Station to set out and try something similar with the rover mission. After floating the idea around mission management, it eventually reached NASA scientist Francis McCubbin, who would join the SHERLOC instrument team as a collaborator to move the project forward. The Geocaching inclusion was scaled-down to a trackable item that players could search for from NASA camera views and then log on the site.
In a manner similar to the "Send Your Name to Mars" campaign, the geocaching trackable code was carefully printed on a one-inch, polycarbonate glass disk that serves as part of the rover's calibration target. It will serve as an optical target for the WATSON imager and a spectroscopic standard for the SHERLOC instrument. The disk is made of a prototype astronaut helmet visor material that will be tested for its potential use in manned missions to Mars. Designs were approved by the mission leads at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), NASA Public Affairs, and NASA HQ, in addition to Groundspeak Geocaching HQ.
Perseverance launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, which began to affect the mission planning in March 2020. To show appreciation for healthcare workers who helped during the pandemic, an 8 cm × 13 cm (3.1 in × 5.1 in) plate with a staff-and serpent symbol was placed on the rover. The project manager, Matt Wallace, said he hoped that future generations going to Mars would be able to appreciate healthcare workers during 2020.
The orange-and-white parachute used by rover to land on Mars contained a secret message that was discovered and deciphered by Twitter users. NASA's systems engineer Ian Clark used binary code to hide the message "Dare mighty things" in the parachute color pattern. The 70-foot-wide parachute consisted of 80 strips of fabric that form a hemisphere-shape canopy, and each strip consisted of four pieces. Dr. Clark thus had 320 pieces with which to encode his secret message. He also included the GPS coordinates for the JPL's headquarters in Pasadena, California (34°11’58” N 118°10’31” W). Clark said that only six people knew about the message before landing. The code was found and deciphered in just a few hours after the image was presented by Perseverance's team.
"Dare mighty things" is a quote attributed to U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt and is the unofficial motto of JPL. It adorns many of the JPL center's walls.
Full look at Perseverance's components at https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/spacecraft/rover/.