Uncertain Sponsorship for Mars-Bound, Life-Seeking Microscope

A Mars-exploration advocacy group has embarked on a campaign to raise funds to sponsor a life-seeking microscope aboard the next spacecraft set to land on the Red Planet, although lander officials say they have agreed to no such deal. Either way, the instrument is to be toted to Mars on the British-built Beagle 2 lander. If on schedule, it will be the first microscope placed on Mars, said Peter Smith, senior research scientist at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson. He is building the unit with colleagues at the Max Planck Institute in Germany.