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

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Partly cloudy with a chance of hot plasma: A NASA-funded study showed some of the first clear economic data that quantifies the risk extreme weather conditions in space have on the Earth. The study, conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, notes that besides emitting a continuous stream of plasma called the solar wind, the sun periodically releases billions of tons of matter called coronal mass ejections. Such space weather can impact the performance and reliability of space-borne and ground-based technological systems, NASA said.

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In pictures: 20 key NASA projects in 2009

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