The Japanese Space Exploration Agency announced the abandonment of the Nozumi Mars probe this week, after five years of circuitous ramblings through the solar system to arrive at the red planet. The unfortunate probe, originally launched in 1998, met with a series of setbacks that delayed the approach to Mars. A solar flare mortally wounded the craft, short-circuiting critical systems that could not be repaired remotely. Instead of orbiting red planet (or colliding during closest approach), the probe will be deliberately sent into deep space to avoid contaminating the Martian environment.
It’s been a string of setbacks for Japan lately, including the destruction of two spy satellites last month when their rocket launch went awry.
Power probe looks to Jovian moons: NASA revealed plans for the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, a probe powered by a fission reactor. That’s one spicy meatball to be tossing up into orbit if you ask me.