Curiosity Landing Party at the Adler | Photos and report

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  • Photograph: Joel Kulesa

    We are here: Adler staff passed around a globe of Mars so people could find Curiosity's new home in the Gale Crater.

  • Photography: courtesy of Adler Planetarium

    At the Adler Planetarium's late-night party August 5-6 to celebrate the landing of Curiosity, the Mars rover, many of the 500 attendees wore the color of the so-called "Red Planet" and posed with a friendly Martian.

  • At the Adler Planetarium's late-night party August 5-6 to celebrate the landing of Curiosity, the Mars rover, many of the 500 attendees wore the color of the so-called "Red Planet" and posed with a friendly Martian.

    Photo: courtesy of Adler Planetarium

  • Photograph: courtesy of Adler Planetarium

    At the Adler Planetarium's late-night party August 5-6 to celebrate the landing of Curiosity, the Mars rover, many of the 500 attendees wore the color of the so-called "Red Planet" and posed with a friendly Martian.

  • Photograph: courtesy of Adler Planetarium

    At the Adler Planetarium's late-night party August 5-6 to celebrate the landing of Curiosity, the Mars rover, many of the 500 attendees wore the color of the so-called "Red Planet" and posed with a friendly Martian.

  • Photograph: courtesy of Adler Planetarium

    At the Adler Planetarium's late-night party August 5-6 to celebrate the landing of Curiosity, the Mars rover, many of the 500 attendees wore the color of the so-called "Red Planet" and posed with a friendly Martian.

  • Photograph: courtesy of Adler Planetarium

    At the Adler Planetarium's late-night party August 5-6 to celebrate the landing of Curiosity, the Mars rover, many of the 500 attendees wore the color of the so-called "Red Planet" and posed with a friendly Martian.

  • Photograph: courtesy of Adler Planetarium

    At the Adler Planetarium's late-night party August 5-6 to celebrate the landing of Curiosity, the Mars rover, many of the 500 attendees wore the color of the so-called "Red Planet" and posed with a friendly Martian.

  • Photograph: courtesy of Adler Planetarium

    At the Adler Planetarium's late-night party August 5-6 to celebrate the landing of Curiosity, the Mars rover, many of the 500 attendees wore the color of the so-called "Red Planet" and posed with a friendly Martian.

  • Photograph: courtesy of Adler Planetarium

    Free coffee was quickly consumed by some of the 500 guests at the Adler's late-night party, August 5-6, celebrating the landing of Curiosity, the Mars rover.

  • Photograph: courtesy of Adler Planetarium

    At the Adler Planetarium's late-night party August 5-6 to celebrate the landing of Curiosity, the Mars rover, many of the 500 attendees wore the color of the so-called "Red Planet" and posed with a friendly Martian.

  • Photograph: courtesy of Adler Planetarium

    The good Doctor Who was among the surprise visitors at the Adler's late-night party to celebrate the landing of Curiosity, the Mars rover.

  • Photograph: courtesy of Adler Planetarium

    Even ALF, the "alien life form" of 1980s TV, made an appearance at the Adler's late-night party to celebrate the landing of Curiosity, the Mars rover.

Photograph: Joel Kulesa

We are here: Adler staff passed around a globe of Mars so people could find Curiosity's new home in the Gale Crater.


On the enormous screen carrying the live feed from NASA’s mission control in the early hours of Monday morning, engineers hugged and high-fived (and a few teared up). Meanwhile, in two standing-room-only rooms at the Adler Planetarium, hundreds of people watching the events unfold erupted in cheers as well.

It's always nifty when science gives things like sports (the Olympics) and rock (Lollapalooza) a run for Americans' attention, which is exactly what happened late Sunday night and early Monday morning. Happily, the drama of the Mars Science Laboratory, nicknamed Curiosity, ended happily when we heard the astonishing good news: the SUV-sized, multipurpose spacecraft—which had just spent nine months on a course to Mars—landed safely, against all odds, on our neighboring planet. If you've seen NASA's must-watch "Seven Minutes of Terror" video, which details the perils of Curiosity's seven-minute descent to the surface of Mars (and which we told you about last week), you know why the nation was nervous about sticking the landing.

The event drew considerable attention nationwide: In Pasadena, California (home to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory), people filled the convention center; on the other coast, New Yorkers gathered to watch the news unfold on Jumbotron in Times Square. And in Chicago, more than 500 locals—including some families with kids, despite the way-past-bedtime hour—flocked to the Adler Planetarium for its late-night Curiosity Landing Party.

The good news from NASA meant that the evening’s event lived up to its name. But since the free party began at 9pm and Curiosity wasn’t expected to touch down on Mars till about 12:30am Monday, that meant a few hundred people had to amuse themselves while crossing their fingers for a successful outcome. Our hosts at the Adler obliged with complimentary coffee (which went quickly, since everyone was determined to stay awake and alert) and activities. Volunteers set up a few telescopes outside for looking at Saturn and the moon, while indoors, people could make buttons, try to answer Mars trivia, play a rover-landing game from Xbox Kinect, get their picture taken with a green alien, wander through the museum's mind-bending new exhibit, or enjoy the Adler’s “live sky show” inside one of its domed theaters. Later, some audience members got to pass around a Mars globe and look for Gale Crater, where humanity now has a presence in Curiosity.

So far, the rover has sent back some photos but no conclusive evidence of Marvin Martian, although his pic is making the rounds on the internets, fueled by Facebook. (We're not positive, but we suspect Photoshop.) But we do have a ton of fun, authentic photos of the revelers at Adler's party. Enjoy!


Now that the Mars Science Laboratory has landed, if you're curious (no pun intended) to learn more about Mars, the Adler has plenty of info in its permanent Solar System Gallery and, for littler ones, in "Planet Explorers" exhibit. Also, Adler's Space Visualization Lab will feature the latest images from the Curiosity rover as they arrive. Meanwhile, the Museum of Science and Industry has a temporary exhibit, "Life in Space?", which includes a module on Mars and a life-size replica of Curiosity.


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