With NASA spraying $165 million probes all over the Martian landscape like a hack golfer shanking balls into the woods, America is wondering just how many mulligans the space agency gets to take.

Remember, these were the people who once heroically rescued Apollo 13 astronauts. If Apollo 13 had been set for this year, the astronauts would've gotten lost on the van ride to the launch pad and ended up in Orlando instead of in space.

In these troubled times, we've provided NASA with a Top Ten list of excuses for its most recent bungle:

10. Be patient. Mars lander is trying to dial in on an AOL account.

9. Martians, sick and tired of ducking Earthcraft raining on their planet, trashed the lander.

8. Was actually the "Jupiter lander," but NASA failed to top off spacecraft's tank before departure. Fast-thinking space agency renamed it "Mars lander" en route, hoping public will accept "catastrophic failure" before "ran out of gas" excuse.

7. Is actually fulfilling President Kennedy's lesser-known vow to "put a bunch of junk on Mars before the end of the century."

6. Project was doomed from the start by congressional cuts in duct tape budget.

5. Technically, it's a "lander." And, hey--it "landed," didn't it?

4. We're still ahead of the Chinese, okay?

3. At least there wasn't a cute little dog in it. We think.

2. May have something to do with lander's final transmission, in which rock formations on the planet's surface seem to show face of Steve Forbes.

1. Crashed after engineers failed to convert measurements from English to metric. Nah, no one would buy that.--Frank Ahrens