Spacecraft Converge on Mars

Issue of life on the planet could be resolved

3 min read

The mystery of whether there is or has been life on Mars may be clarified or even resolved soon, with four new spacecraft--two from the European Space Agency (ESA) and two from NASA--arriving at the planet. They join two NASA probes already in orbit, though one of them--Odyssey--had a radiation sensor knocked out by the unusually intense solar storms in October. A fifth spacecraft, Japan's Nozomi, suffered problems that were aggravated by the solar activity and it will probably miss Mars altogether.

Cute but Smart: One of the NASA rovers expected to land on Mars this month, in an artist's conception.

Such mishaps are a reminder of the "Mars curse" that has seemed to dog so many attempts to reach the red planet. No doubt the curse was on the minds of European flight controllers as Beagle 2 approached the planet in hopes of making a safe landing on 25 December.

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Top Tech 2023: A Special Report

These two dozen technical projects should make significant advances in the coming year

2 min read
Top Tech 2023: A Special Report
Edmon DeHaro

Each January, the editors of IEEE Spectrum offer up some predictions about technical developments we expect to be in the news over the coming year. You’ll find a couple dozen of those described in the following special report. Of course, the number of things we could have written about is far higher, so we had to be selective in picking which projects to feature. And we’re not ashamed to admit, gee-whiz appeal often shaped our choices.

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