NASA

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.

Philae Lander on Comet
ESA/Rosetta/Philae/CIVA

There is a St. Louis-area connection to the mission that recently landed a spacecraft on a comet for the first time.

Paul Friz is wrapping up an internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

His interest in space started as a teenager looking at the stars at his family’s home in Creve Coeur, Missouri.

When he was 14, Friz saved money from a summer of mowing lawns to buy his first telescope.

Boeing Corp.

NASA announced Tuesday it will award Boeing $4.2 billion to build one of two spacecraft to take American astronauts to the International Space Station.

SpaceX’s Dragon won the other contract, worth $2.6 billion.

NASA said it’s backing the two space taxis with the goal of returning the launch of astronauts from U.S. soil by 2017.

Administrator Charles Bolden said NASA chose two spacecraft because they plan to have more destinations than the International Space Station, including Mars.

NASA

Forty-five years ago this Sunday, Apollo 11 became the first space flight to land men on the moon.

At Mission Control in Houston, Gene Kranz was the man in charge.

Kranz spent more than three decades working for the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, serving as flight director for both the Gemini and Apollo space programs.

(Art Chimes)

If you happen to be near the Saint Louis Science Center planetarium at around 2 o’clock in the afternoon, look up. You might see a weather balloon.

Students at Saint Louis University are launching them as part of a study sponsored by the U.S. space agency NASA.

The mission aims to improve our understanding of air pollution and global climate.

Before we run through the news of the day, let's pause for something spectactular: a new video from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. It shows a "massive filament" eruption on the sun that occurred last Friday. As Britain's The Register says, it is "mind-bogglingly gorgeous."

(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.

(via Flickr/makelessnoise)

Houston now has one fewer problem to worry about.

Moon dust apparently smuggled years ago from Johnson Space Center is now back in Houston - from St. Louis.

Twenty-five years ago, the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart shortly after liftoff, killing all seven crew members on board.

Here in St. Louis, the Challenger Learning Center is offering a variety of programs honoring the Challenger crew and their families.