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

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NASA call this the biggest astrobiology mission to Mars ever. The Mars Science Laboratory should launch before Christmas this year. The Mars Science Laboratory is actually a rover that will drive around the reed planet looking for that elusive data that will tell us whether Mars ever was, or is still is capable of supporting life. The rover will carry the biggest, most advanced suite of instruments for scientific studies ever sent to the Martian surface, NASA said. The rover's onboard laboratory will study rocks, soils, and the local geologic setting in order to detect chemical building blocks of life.

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In Pictures: 21 critical future NASA missions

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