It's usually impossible to predict science headlines for the year ahead: Small labs could come out of nowhere with amazing discoveries, long-expected findings might fail to materialize, and "settled science" may be thrown into turmoil. But one field--maybe more than any other--gives us strong hints on what to expect. Thanks to heavy legislation, complicated engineering, and astronomical distances travelled, we can see into the future of space exploration with some confidence. A JAUNT TOWARD JUPITER
Kicking off our list of space missions that are likely to make headlines in 2011 are three journeys that are just getting started. The first is the launch of NASA's Juno orbiter
, scheduled to head toward Jupiter in August. Juno will study the gas giant's atmosphere and search for evidence of a solid core to provide insight into Jupiter's formation and structure; by extension, it will also give us a more complete picture of how massive planets may form in other solar systems. Juno will fly for five years and drop into orbit in July 2016.