Mars

This vista from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity shows "Wdowiak Ridge." Opportunity's panoramic camera (Pancam) recorded the component images for this mosaic on Sept. 17, 2014
(Courtesy: NASA)

The world is sitting at the intersection of science fiction and science fact, in large part because of sci-fi devotees.

“People who are actively aware of what could be possible are psychologically more flexible than people who aren’t,” psychologist Michael Mahon told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh. Mahon was trained as a clinical psychologist but now works as a licensed professional counselor.

Maggie Duckworth
Alex Heuer / St. Louis Public Radio

Maggie Duckworth is an electrical engineer and costume designer. She’s also the only St. Louis-area resident who’s still in the running for a one-way ticket to Mars.

Duckworth is a finalist for the Mars One mission to build a human colony on the Red Planet. Mars One is a Dutch nonprofit organization that plans to send humans to Mars by 2024. It will award 24 one-way tickets and Duckworth has made it through three rounds of cuts.

NASA's Curiosity rover has found definitive proof that water once ran across the surface of Mars, the agency announced today. NASA scientists say new photos from the rover show rocks that were smoothed and rounded by water. The rocks are in a large canyon and nearby channels that were cut by flowing water, making up an alluvial fan.

"You had water transporting these gravels to the downslope of the fan," NASA researchers say. The gravel then formed into a conglomerate rock, which was in turn likely covered before being exposed again.

This photograph brings some perspective to the amazing feat of landing a small vehicle on Mars:

The picture was taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter just as the spacecraft carrying Curiosity deployed its parachute. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment at The University of Arizona, which released the image, explains:

(Image courtesy of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Not long after midnight central time tonight, the rover known as Curiosity will land on Mars.

It will take the rover seven minutes to get from the Mars atmosphere to the planet's surface. But because it takes about twice that long for signals to travel from Mars to Earth, scientists won't know anything about the landing until after it's already over.