NASA's InSight successfully lands on Mars to study what's beneath the surface of the red planet

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The next step in the exploration of Mars is underway.  After a 7 month journey to the red planet, NASA's spacecraft InSight landed on Mars Monday afternoon. 

Applause erupted at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California when InSight touched down.  After a 300-million mile journey, it was a perfect landing. 

"NASA engineers came through and now scientists get to play," said Scott Harris, the Planetary Geologist at the Fernbank Science Center. 

Harris says while this isn't the first landing on Mars, it's the first with a mission to study the interior of the planet.  It will study everything from Marsquakes to Meteor strikes, and what's below the Martian surface using high-tech instruments. 

"It's going to deploy some instruments that are really important for understanding the deep structure of Mars," said Harris.

Over the next two years, scientists hope to learn some deep, dark secrets of Mars that could tell us about our own existance here on Earth. 

"We have to understand Mars' formation to understand planet formation in our solar system," said Harris.

Right now it's robots doing the work, but Harris says the more we know, the closer we will get to actually putting a man on Mars. 

"Hopefully in the not too distant future we won't have to depend on robots where us geologists can put our boots down on the planets and start picking up the rocks," said Harris.