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

In pictures: 20 key NASA projects in 2009 prev next

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The asteroid issue: In October, NASA scientists recalculated the path of a large asteroid known as Apophis and found it had only a very slim chance of banging into Earth. That's a good thing because the Apophis asteroid is approximately the size of two-and-a-half football fields and there was some concern that it might come a little too close to Earth on April 13, 2036. That NASA saw and tracked this asteroid isn't so much news, but earlier in the year the National Academy of Sciences reported NASA's capability to perform that duty was lacking, saying that while Congress mandated that NASA detect and track 90% of near earth objects (NEO) it has not authorized any funds to build additional observatories to help NASA achieve its goals.

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In pictures: 20 key NASA projects in 2009

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