Gore Vidal was known as much for his fierce public spats as he was for collected works that included 25 novels, 200 essays, six plays, several screenplays, and a National Book Award for essays on the United States.
In a week, if the landing goes as planned, NASA's Mars Curiosity rover will be looking for signs of methane and other organic compounds in the atmosphere and the soil, which could turn up new clues in the search for life there.
The wife of ousted Politburo member Bo Xilai, Gu Kailai, will be tried for the murder of a British business man. The trial is likely to start in early August. In the meantime, no details of the crime or the motive have been released to the public.