In pictures: 20 key NASA projects in 2009

From the space shuttle and Mars mission to water on the moon and ice on the Earth, NASA has its hands in a variety of critical projects

To fly humans in space or not to fly humans in space: Arguably the project that took a ton of NASA's time this year was testifying before and providing information to the Review of United States Human Space Flight Plan Committee, which in October came to the conclusion that while NASA is the most accomplished space organization in the world, its human spaceflight activities are at a tipping point, primarily due to a mismatch of goals and money. According to the report, NASA's fundamental conundrum is that it essentially has the resources either to build a major new system or to operate one, but not to do both.

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