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10 Things: February 22
22 Feb 2016
(Source: NASA)

Ten things you need to know about our solar system this week

From Mars to the asteroid belt to Saturn, our hardworking space robots are exploring the solar system. These mechanical emissaries orbit distant worlds or rove across alien landscapes, going places that are too remote or too dangerous for people (for now). We often show off the pictures that these spacecraft send home, but this week we're turning that around: here are some of the best pictures of the space robots, taken by other robots (or themselves), in deep space.

Click on any thumbnail image to see a full-size picture. Every image is a portrait of the ingenuity that human designers put into building and flying these machines.


1. So Selfless with the Selfies
The Mars Curiosity rover makes breathtaking panoramas of the Martian landscape--and looks good doing it. This mission is famous for the remarkable self portraits of its robotic geologist in action.

+ See more Martian selfies
+ Try this draggable 360 panorama
+ See how the rover team makes these images


2. Two Spaceships Passing in the Moonlight
In a feat of timing on Jan. 14, 2014, NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter caught a snapshot of LADEE, another robotic spacecraft that was orbiting the moon at the time. LADEE zoomed past at a distance of only about five miles (about 9 kilometers) below.

+ Learn more about LRO
+ Learn more about LADEE


3. A Shadow of Itself
Just what is that spot on the asteroid Itokawa in this shot from Nov. 2005? It's the shadow of Japan's Hayabusa spacecraft, which returned the first samples of an asteroid to Earth.

+ Hear the Hayabusa story
+ Check out NASA's upcoming asteroid sample return mission


4. Photo Opportunity
Turns out Curiosity isn't the only Mars rover that can do selfies. The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity made this dusty self-portrait about three weeks before completing a decade of work on Mars. The amazing thing? It's still roving today.

+ Follow along with Opportunity


5. Caught in the Very Act
The team that manages NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission scored a real feat of flight with this one. They managed to capture, from above, the moment that the Curiosity rover was descending to the surface under its parachute on Aug. 5, 2012.

+ See how they did it
+ Find out more about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission


6. Bon Voyage, Galileo
The history-making Galileo mission to Jupiter set sail from the cargo bay of another spacecraft, Space Shuttle Atlantis, on Oct. 18, 1989.

+ Learn more about Galileo's tour of the Jupiter system
+ Get ready for Juno, which arrives at the king of planets this July


7. Cometary Close-Up
Using a camera on the Philae lander, the Rosetta spacecraft snapped an extraordinary self portrait at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from a distance of about 10 miles (16 kilometers). The image captures the side of Rosetta and one of its 14-meter-long solar wings, with the comet in the background.

+ Learn more about Rosetta


8. Run, Rabbit
This look at China's Chang'e 3 lunar lander comes from a camera aboard the Yutu (or "Rabbit") rover on the surface of the moon near the "Bay of Rainbows" in Jan. 2014.

+ See more from the Chang'e 3 mission (in Chinese)


9. A Sojourn on Mars
An enhanced version of a famous 1997 Mars Pathfinder photo shows the lander and the Sojourner rover that paved the way for future rover missions. This version shows only part of the 360-degree panorama.

+ Get the full view


10. Man and Machine
This snapshot captures a remarkable moment in the history of exploration: the one and only time a human met up in space with a robotic forerunner on location. The Surveyor 3 lander helped pave the way for the astronaut footsteps that came a few years later.

+ See the story of Apollo 12 and this unique encounter


See previous editions of 10 Things.

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Last Updated: 22 Feb 2016