Adler Planetarium Hosts Watch Party For Mars Spacecraft Landing

Lisa Fielding
November 26, 2018 - 4:32 pm

Lisa Fielding

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A collective cheer eruped inside the Adler Planetarium's Space Visualization Laboratory as flight controllers announced the spacecraft InSight touched down on the red planet.

"We're here to tour and take in the sights and sounds of Chicago and what a better place to see something like this at the Adler Planetarium," said Cheston Reisler, who's visiting from Washington, D.C.

"We didn't realize this was happening today. It was a pleasant surprise," Reisler laughed.

Reisler said he considers himself an amateur astronomer.

"People are thinking that one day, there will be life on Mars. It's very exciting to see the first steps to see what it's like on Mars and what it's like underneath the crust and can it be sustained," he said.

Rose Baker brought her two children to the event after their school district called a snow day.

"We had a snow day so I thought well, they're not going to be bums and couch potatoes, so let's come witness something happening that's really cool," Baker said.

"I liked it," said Landon Baker, 7. "Mars is made out of soil. I want to be an astronomer or an astronaut someday."

Baker said her son is huge on space and is studying the different planets and solar systems.

"He knows all of our planets, all of our dwarf planets, he's learning different solar systems so yeah, he thought this was really cool. He loves Rovers so this was awesome for us," said Baker.

Lisa Fielding

 Astronomer Mark Hammergren said this will be the first look at the interior of Mars.

"It's a very exciting time," he said. "We're going to mapping the heat loss from the inside basically taking the planet's temperature, looking at earthquakes in a very detailed way, mapping out the sub surface structure. We're going to get an idea of what the core of Mars is like." he said.

 Hammergren said the solar powered InSight lander will likely be on Mars for about two years.

"This will give us views into, not only the past geology of Mars, but the formation of Mars, but also maybe ongoing geological activity," said Hammergren.

Amie Krueger and her family stopped at Adler and unbeknownst to her, she said they had a front row view to history.

"I think it's amazing. It's remarkable the things we can do now," Krueger said.

"It was spontaneous, random. It was great seeing that," said Tobin Krueger. "It's incredible how the transmissions are faster than the speed of light. I think they are going to find something very important."

Lisa Fielding

"We were upstairs looking at the Moon landing in '69 and how far we've come in 50 years is pretty amazing, from the old rickety contraptions that went to the Moon to the sophisticated technology now is pretty remarkable -- it's pretty exciting." said Brian Moyers.

"This is the first time this has ever been done for any other planet other than the Earth so we'll have something to compare ourselves to now." said Hammergren.

Confirmation of the Insight landing came via radio signals that took more than eight minutes to cross the nearly 100 million miles between Mars and Earth.

It is NASA's eighth successful Mars landing since the 1976 Vikings. The thee-legged, one-armed InSight will operate from the same spot for the next two years. It landed less than 400 miles from NASA's Curiosity rover, which until Monday was the youngest working robot in town. Watch the landing recap on NASA's site