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

The mountain climbing robot: NASA researchers say they had built and tested a robot that can rappel off cliffs, travel over steep and rocky terrain, and explore deep craters. The prototype rover, called Axel, might help future robotic spacecraft better explore and investigate foreign worlds such as Mars. On Earth, Axel might assist in search-and-rescue operations in locations where people might not be able to reach.

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