In Pictures: 21 critical future NASA missions

NASA space plans include trips to Mars, Jupiter, Pluto and the Sun as well as climate change operations

In Pictures: 21 critical future NASA missions next

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Jupiter bound: Another mission set to launch this year will ultimately take a closer look at Jupiter. Called Juno, the mission will be the first in which a spacecraft is placed in a highly elliptical polar orbit around the giant planet to understand its formation, evolution and structure. The spacecraft is scheduled to launch in 2011, reaching Jupiter in 2016. JUNO will orbit Jupiter 32 times, skimming about 3,000 miles over the planet's cloud tops for approximately one year. The mission will be the first solar powered spacecraft designed to operate despite the great distance from the sun, NASA said.

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In Pictures: 21 critical future NASA missions

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