The score in the 2003-04 interplanetary cup now stands at Mars 2, Earth 1. This weekend our world gets its chance to level the game. Early last month, five spacecraft were closing in on the red planet. But then Japan declared that its Mars probe, Nozomi – Japanese for Hope – had malfunctioned and had no hope of entering Mars orbit. Then, on Christmas Day, Britain’s Beagle 2 vanished while attempting to land, although optimistic officials say they have not given up hope it may be found. The only good news came when Beagle’s mothership, the European-built Mars Express, slipped safely into Martian orbit. However, two more Mars landers, six-wheeled NASA rovers the size of a desk, are on their way.