Anonymous Coward writes "After months of silence and a week of hopeful half-truths, Japanese space officials have finally confirmed that their Mars-bound Nozomi probe is teetering on the brink of failure in its five-year quest to explore the Red Planet. The Nozomi orbiter is one of four spacecraft that are due to converge on Mars in the next two months. The other three probes -- the European Space Agency's Mars Express and NASA's two Mars Exploration Rovers -- are still on track and in good working order, according to the latest status reports. Mars Express is due to enter Martian orbit on Christmas Day and send a British-built Beagle 2 lander to the surface, while the NASA rovers should arrive on Jan. 3 and Jan. 24."