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

Stuck in the sand: As of this posting, NASA's long running Mars rover Spirit is still stuck in a sand trap - a situation the space agency would like to fix. NASA engineers are trying to extricate Spirit by sending commands that could free the rover. Spirit has been stuck in a place NASA calls "Troy" since April 23 when the rover's wheels broke through a crust on the surface that was covering a bright-toned, slippery sand underneath. After a few drive attempts to get Spirit out in the subsequent days, it began sinking deeper in the sand trap. Driving was suspended to allow time for tests and reviews of possible escape strategies, NASA stated.

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