…and you lose some — the Genesis probe that was due to return to earth today, having collected a slew of solar particles, has done so — only not as intended. Success is never guaranteed, of course, but this is in many ways like the robotic equivalent of last year’s Shuttle crash — mission completed, everything apparently set for a picture perfect landing, and then a catastrophic failure. In this case it was a chute that failed to deploy rather than a punctured heat shield, but the sense of bitter loss is the same, and given the subject of the mission — capturing particles directly from the solar wind, a chance to analyze at least some part of the Sun directly — it’s all the more frustrating and sad. Hopefully there will be a thorough analysis to discover what went wrong (I hate to sound a note of doubt but after the two shuttle crashes and their investigations I admit sometimes I wonder if like any other organization NASA is more able to dissemble rather than face up to things), and of course it could just be that there was no way to prevent this. Still, though, it hurts — probes have been lost time and again, but this was the first to have been lost right at the end.