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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Red atmosphere: Getting an up-close look at the atmosphere around Mars is the main mission of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) satellite looking to hit space in 2013. According to NASA the $485 million mission will explore why Mars once had a denser atmosphere that supported the presence of liquid water on the surface. MAVEN will make definitive scientific measurements of present-day atmospheric loss that will offer clues about the planet's history.

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In Pictures: 21 critical future NASA missions

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