Nozomi is on a Collision Course with Mars

The Mars-bound Japanese spacecraft Nozomi, which has been plagued with problems since its launch in 1998, could be on a collision course with the Red Planet, and might crash into it if engineers can’t change its trajectory. Officials from the Japanese space agency will attempt to fire the spacecraft’s engines on December 8 to kick it into a safer orbit. But before that, they need to fix the spacecraft’s malfunctioning electrical. One worry is that Nozomi was never intended to enter Mars’ atmosphere, so it wasn’t carefully decontaminated – it could deliver Earth-based microbes to the Martian surface.