Following the magnificent success of the complex sky crane system that delivered Curiosity to Mars in August 2012, and the rover's successes since then, NASA is working briskly on plans for another Curiosity-class Mars rover to visit the red planet, it is hoped, during the 2020 launch opportunity.
Functionally, the 2020 rover is a virtual clone of Curiosity . It will even utilize the backup nuclear power source from Curiosity (one of the few left in the U.S. inventory). This results in over a billion dollars in estimated cost savings by reducing development costs. Yet, despite this reliance on current technology, engineers will need to innovate many new designs for this mission to be successful.
NEWS: NASA Plans 'Curiosity Twin' Rover Mission in 2020
First, there is the mission itself. Once the 2004 Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs) Spirit and Opportunity confirmed the evidence of a wet Mars in the distant past (tantalizing promises came from both from orbit and by Pathfinder in 1997), Curiosity's purpose was confirmed as an astrobiology mission. By this, NASA was not saying that it would search for life the way Viking did in the 1970s; rather, it would seek formerly habitable environments on and just under the Martian surface. The instruments carried onboard would be specifically accommodate that mission goal. From the ChemCam laser-firing spectrometer, to the SAM and Chemin onboard laboratories, to the Powder Acquisition Drill System, or PADS, drill, the entire rover was optimized for that task while still being capable of other research activities.