"Today's landing on Mars will absolutely inspire kids to grow up and become tomorrow's scientists."By Nicole Ford

PITTSBURGH, PA (KDKA) – It’s Mars day, and a new rover has landed on the planet.

The mission is just the first step in collecting new data to be brought back to Earth.

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“It’s Mars day. This is the day that the NASA Perseverance rover is landing on Mars,” said Mike Hennessy with Carnegie Science Center.

At the Science Center, kids from across western Pennsylvania virtually watched a successful landing just before 4 p.m. on Thursday.

“Today’s landing on Mars will absolutely inspire kids to grow up and become tomorrow’s scientists, STEM professionals, future astronauts, future robotics engineers who send other missions to Mars,” Hennessy said.

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While this mission is centered around collecting samples to see if there is life on Mars, it’s not the first trip to the red planet.

“In college, I saw the Mars exploration rover twins Spirit and Opportunity land on Mars, and I was inspired by that somewhat by the cool factor,” said Scott Moreland.

That cool factor led Moreland to Carnegie Mellon University. He watched Thursday as a rover he helped design takes a step toward the future

“This is the first mission I’ve worked on where I actually contributed directly to the design and build of the hardware. And it is exciting to know that the part that touches down first is the wheels and that’s the big part I contributed to,” Moreland said.

While Moreland watched from California, his fellow CMU alum and CEO of Astrobotic cheered his team on from Pittsburgh.

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“I’m so excited for him and everything he’s accomplished and I’m sure he will be sitting in on our moon landing at some point in the near future. So it’s great to trade these space missions together,” said John Thornton.