Sixty years after the Battle of the Bulge reduced it to rubble, the "pearl of the Ardennes" is shining again. \nSqueezed between its hilltop medieval fortress and the serpentine River Ourthe, the little town has rediscovered its pre-World War II fame as a thriving tourist center. Its population of 1,400 swells tenfold with summer visitors attracted by the charms of the Ardennes forest. It epitomizes a peaceful, uniting Europe reborn from the ashes of war. \n"Tourism has seen an extraordinary boom," says Mayor Jean-Pierre Dardenne. "Hardly a week goes by without the Town Hall getting a request from somebody wanting to open a new bed-and-breakfast." \nSixty years ago, the Ardennes' valleys, trout streams and rolling hills were the scene of Hitler's last gamble. \nIn December 1944, his panzer divisions smashed through the forests, catching the Allies by surprise and driving the front westward in a "bulge" that ran deep into Belgian territory. It took a month to push the Germans back. \nLa Roche was seized by the Germans on Dec. 20, then razed by US bombing raids before a pincer action by US and Scottish troops finally liberated the town on Jan. 9. Almost one in 10 of the locals were killed. \n"The Americans smashed everything," remembers Jeanne Fourny, 83. "It was necessary of course because they chased out the Germans, but we didn't really enjoy it at the time." \nNowadays, La Roche's location is bringing people back. \n"We have space here, which others don't have, where people can just get away to breathe freely for a couple of days," says Dardenne, pointing out that 66 million Europeans live within 320km of La Roche. \nAlthough incomes in the Ardennes are lower than in the rest of Belgium, Dardenne says the region is fast catching up. With tourism replacing farming as the economic mainstay, the population is growing faster than in the rest of the country.
An uncrewed Chinese spacecraft has acquired imagery data covering all of Mars, including visuals of its south pole, after circling the planet more than 1,300 times since early last year, state media reported yesterday. The Tianwen-1 successfully reached the Red Planet in February last year on the country’s inaugural mission there. A robotic rover has since been deployed on the surface as an orbiter surveyed the planet from space. Among the images taken from space were China’s first photographs of the Martian south pole, where almost all of the planet’s water resources are locked. In 2018, an orbiting probe operated by the European
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A flight test of a hypersonic missile system in Hawaii on Wednesday ended in failure due to a problem that occurred after ignition, the US Department of Defense said, delivering a fresh blow to a program that has experienced stumbles. It did not provide details of what took place in the test, but said in an e-mailed statement that “the department remains confident that it is on track to field offensive and defensive hypersonic capabilities on target dates beginning in the early 2020s.” “An anomaly occurred following ignition of the test asset,” Pentagon spokesman US Navy Lieutenant Commander Tim Gorman said in