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

Go for glory: Expected to launch this year, Glory is a low Earth orbit (LEO) research satellite designed to collect data on the properties of aerosols, including black carbon, in the Earth's atmosphere and climate system. It is also designed to collect data on solar irradiance for the long-term effects on the Earth climate record. Understanding whether the temperature increase and climate changes are by-products of natural events or whether the changes are caused by man-made sources is of primary importance, NASA said.

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