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Proposed projects

Here are some of the projects NASA may undertake in the next 30 years:

_ The James Webb Space Telescope, successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.

_ The Terrestrial Planet Finder would locate Earth-like planets around other stars that might harbor life.

_ The Big Bang Observer would study the first micro-seconds of the universe, when a sudden burst of "inflation" started the expansion that continues today.

_ The Interstellar Probe would study the gas and dust filling space between the stars.

_ The Black Hole Finder Probe would study the creation and evolution of black holes, objects so dense that not even light can escape them.

_ The Black Hole Imager would observe material as it falls into a black hole, never to reappear.

_ JDEM (Joint Dark Energy Mission) would study the mysterious force that's driving the universe to expand.

_ LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna): Three spacecraft separated by 3 million miles would catch "gravity waves," ripples in space left over from the big bang at the birth of the universe.

_ Sun-Solar System Great Observatory: Multiple satellites stationed between the Earth and the sun would study our home star's effect on our planet.

_ The JUNO spacecraft would orbit Jupiter and observe what goes on inside our largest planet.

_ The Europa Lander would study the ice-covered moon of Jupiter for evidence of possible life.

_ Titan Explorer would land on Saturn's biggest moon and see what it's made of.

_ Venus Surface Explorer would study the makeup of Earth's nearest neighbor.

_ The Mars Science Lab would conduct studies preparatory to a human landing.

_ The Mars Sample Return would bring Martian soil and rocks back to Earth for scientific analysis.

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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