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(CNN) -- Humans have reached the moon and are planning to return samples from Mars, but when it comes to exploring the land deep beneath our feet, we have only scratched the surface of our planet.
This may be about to change with a $1 billion mission to drill 6 km (3.7 miles) beneath the seafloor to reach the Earth's mantle -- a 3000 km-thick layer of slowly deforming rock between the crust and the core which makes up the majority of our planet -- and bring back the first ever fresh samples.
It could help answer some of our biggest questions about the origins and evolution of Earth itself, with almost all of the sea floor and continents that make up the Earth´s surface originating from the mantle.
Geologists involved in the project are already comparing it to the Apollo Moon missions in terms of the value of the samples it could yield.
Another unexpected find was a menagerie of microscopic fossils as deep as 6.7 kilometers below the surface. Twenty-four distinct species of plankton microfossils were found, and they were discovered to have carbon and nitrogen coverings rather than the typical limestone or silica. Despite the harsh environment of heat and pressure, the microscopic remains were remarkably intact.
Originally posted by GrimReaper86 Let's see them start with a base on the bottom of the ocean before we get too excited about them drilling to the mantle.