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Space Probe Photos: NASA Pictures

Updated on June 3, 2013
My favourite image of the solar system: Saturn fully backlit by the Sun. You can even make out our own planet in this photo - a tiny white spec just outside the main rings at 10 o' clock on the photo - view fullsize to see it
My favourite image of the solar system: Saturn fully backlit by the Sun. You can even make out our own planet in this photo - a tiny white spec just outside the main rings at 10 o' clock on the photo - view fullsize to see it | Source

Images of the Solar System

We are living in an incredibly privileged age - the age of space exploration; the age of space photography. Every day seems to bring a new spectacular image from the Hubble Space Telescope, or from the Mars Rovers. But these images are merely the latest in a long line of photographs gleaned from missions to other planets: the missions of the Space Probes.

A space probe is a robotic, unmanned machine that has left Earth and is exploring space. We have sent probes to explore all of the planets of our solar system as well as countless moons, comets, asteroids and even the Sun.

This hub takes a look at the smallest fraction of the images gathered in over half a century of space exploration. They are in no particular order but look at images from all regions of the solar system.

STEREO B Captures a Lunar Transit

A great image of the two most recognisable bodies in our solar system: our Moon & the Sun. There is no 'eclipse' effect as STEREO was a million miles away from Earth, making the Moon appear smaller. STEREO are a pair of satellites surveying the Sun
A great image of the two most recognisable bodies in our solar system: our Moon & the Sun. There is no 'eclipse' effect as STEREO was a million miles away from Earth, making the Moon appear smaller. STEREO are a pair of satellites surveying the Sun | Source

Mariner 10 Photographs Mercury

24th March 1974 and Mariner 10 captures the first ever image of Mercury. You cna clearly see plenty of impact craters on the surface of the planet. Mercury experiences the greatest day-night temperature swings in the Solar System.
24th March 1974 and Mariner 10 captures the first ever image of Mercury. You cna clearly see plenty of impact craters on the surface of the planet. Mercury experiences the greatest day-night temperature swings in the Solar System. | Source

Galileo Space Probe Photographs Venus

More than 20 spacecraft have visited Venus. This is a fabulous image of our 'Evil Twin.' No surface features are visible through the thick, crushing atmosphere.
More than 20 spacecraft have visited Venus. This is a fabulous image of our 'Evil Twin.' No surface features are visible through the thick, crushing atmosphere. | Source

Victoria Crater on Mars, By Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

An impact crater 800m in diameter near the equator of Mars taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on the Mars Orbiter. You can see the rover Opportunity labelled.
An impact crater 800m in diameter near the equator of Mars taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on the Mars Orbiter. You can see the rover Opportunity labelled. | Source

Galileo Probe Photographs Asteroid Gaspra

Gaspra, as seen by Galileo - the first time a spacecraft had made a close flyby of an asteroid.
Gaspra, as seen by Galileo - the first time a spacecraft had made a close flyby of an asteroid. | Source

Voyager Photographs Jupiter's Great Red Spot

A close up on the Great Red Spot. This massive storm is larger than the Earth and has been raging for 400 years. It is unclear what makes it red.
A close up on the Great Red Spot. This massive storm is larger than the Earth and has been raging for 400 years. It is unclear what makes it red. | Source

Cassini Captures Saturn Spectacularly

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A wonderful shot of Saturn taken by Cassini - I love the shadow cast onto the planet by its rings.Once again it is the play of light and shadow that makes this space probe photo so spectacular. The particles in the rings constantly smash into each other exposing new, fresh and shiny surfaces. This makes the rings look new and fresh.
A wonderful shot of Saturn taken by Cassini - I love the shadow cast onto the planet by its rings.
A wonderful shot of Saturn taken by Cassini - I love the shadow cast onto the planet by its rings. | Source
Once again it is the play of light and shadow that makes this space probe photo so spectacular. The particles in the rings constantly smash into each other exposing new, fresh and shiny surfaces. This makes the rings look new and fresh.
Once again it is the play of light and shadow that makes this space probe photo so spectacular. The particles in the rings constantly smash into each other exposing new, fresh and shiny surfaces. This makes the rings look new and fresh. | Source

Cassini Photographs Hyperion

The mottled, sponge-like surface of Hyperion snapped by the Cassini probe.
The mottled, sponge-like surface of Hyperion snapped by the Cassini probe. | Source

Voyager 2 Photographs Uranus

The last photograph taken by Voyager 2 as it departs Uranus on January 25th 1986. This was taken when Voyager 2 was 600,000 miles from Uranus
The last photograph taken by Voyager 2 as it departs Uranus on January 25th 1986. This was taken when Voyager 2 was 600,000 miles from Uranus | Source

Voyager 2 Photographs Neptune

Neptune's Great Dark Spot - a massive storm that spins anti-clockwise. You can see other features in the clouds of Neptune, suggesting some interesting weather on the planet
Neptune's Great Dark Spot - a massive storm that spins anti-clockwise. You can see other features in the clouds of Neptune, suggesting some interesting weather on the planet | Source

BONUS: Earthrise

Not strictly a probe, Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to the Moon. The astronauts snapped this iconic image of our fragile, blue ocean world
Not strictly a probe, Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to the Moon. The astronauts snapped this iconic image of our fragile, blue ocean world | Source

What was your favourite photo?

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    • randslam profile image

      Rand Zacharias 5 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      After looking at these photos, I change my vote to Saturn...that last shot of Saturn is incredible. Great pics...a wondrous age...I chose the Sun/Moon shot for my vote, but the more I look at it the more I see an ovum and the backshot of a sperm...lol.

    • TahoeDoc profile image

      TahoeDoc 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe, California

      Fabulous. I'm just in awe of the fact that these photos are even possible. And, they are beautiful. I love a book called "Varieties of Scientific Experience" by Carl Sagan for both the written content and the amazing, breathtaking photos. This reminded me of those photos.Very nice hub!

    • Window Pain profile image

      Window Pain 5 years ago

      I love the Neptune photo because it's beautiful but also because Neptune is so far away and still a magnificent part of our Solar System.

      I also think it has the coolest sounding name! The name 'Neptune' evokes deep wondrous feelings. Mars is the 2nd coolest name, not just because he was the God of War but especially if you say "Marrsss" like a Pirate.

      Jupiter, Mercury and especially Venus are cool names but Saturn evokes a family sedan, Pluto evokes the Disney dog who couldn't talk (but Goofy could?).

      Earth, as a name, is the equivalent of Stuart or Duane. A punchline to a droll joke. You can almost hear a trombone going "BWAA-bwaa" (you know, with a toilet plunger over the end.. never mind)

      But there is one planet whose name is so uncool I dare not even mention it here, because its mere mention instantly implodes rational discussion by what its name evokes.

      Great photos, thanks for posting them.

      (with apologies to all Stuarts and Duanes)

    • Patty Kenyon profile image

      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      Awesome Pictures!!! Well Done...My favorite photo is Neptune captured in all the glorious and inspiring colors!!

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

      A remarkable collection that not only brings beauty to the reader but importance to space exploration and the funding behind it. I was lucky as a child to have a mother who was an astronomer... We would sleep outside at night and watch the stars. It would be nice is more children had such opportunity.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      It was difficult to pick a favorite - I am in awe at all of them! Who would ever have thought we would have these images available in our lifetimes? Incredible and beautiful. Thank you! Voted up and sharing on FB!

    • lcbenefield profile image

      lcbenefield 5 years ago from Georgia

      What beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing these with us. We recently had a set of screensavers that were different photos from space. Neat stuff.

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      My favorite photo is Neptune.. So blue and clear. I also like the color of Jupiter.