Sending humans to Mars poses an extraordinary set of challenges—the long distances, the need to carry massive amounts of materials into space, and the off-the-charts radiation levels—so in National Geographic’s “Mars Up Close,” it’s no surprise that a more modest project known as Curiosity takes center stage. The one-ton, SUV-sized vehicle that parachuted safely onto the red planet in 2012 has sent a wealth of data and images back to Earth. Today, National Geographic launches both a book on the mission by science writer Mark Kaufman and an exhibit that will include a full-scale model of Curiosity and its smaller Mars-visiting predecessors, Spirit/Opportunity and Sojourner. Read more >>> The exhibition is on view daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., to Nov. 4 at National Geographic Museum, 1145 17th St. NW. Free. (202) 857-7700. (Louis Jacobson)


Penn Commons, a sister restaurant to Foggy Bottom’s District Commons, opened in Chinatown yesterday. The two spots have similar menus, but Penn Commons has additional burgers and shakes. Also new are mix-and-match spreads like pimento cheese and chicken liver mousse as well as crispy calamari with smoked tomato tzatziki and pulled pork hand pies. For dessert, try the sundae with peanut butter and chocolate ice cream, hot fudge, and potato chips. Read more about the restaurant and check out photos on Young & HungryPenn Commons, 700 6th St. NW. (202) 905-2999. (Jessica Sidman)


Arlington’s Signature Theatre kicks off its 25th season with a work by—who else?—Stephen Sondheim. Performances of Sunday in the Park with George begin tonight. 7:30 p.m. at 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington. $29–$75.

Local post-punk trio Rom (formerly the Dead Women) plays DC9 tonight with Boston rock group Vundabar and D.C. ambient rockers East Ghost. 8:30 p.m. at 1940 9th St. NW. $8.

The Silk Road Dance Company, which celebrates movement from the Middle East and Central Asia, showcases its work at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. 6 p.m. at 2700 F St. NW. Free.

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