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Robotic probes launched by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and others are gathering information for us right now all across the solar system. We currently have spacecraft in orbit around the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Saturn; several others on their way to smaller bodies; and a few on their way out of the solar system entirely. On Mars, a rover called Spirit has just been officially left for dead, after two years of radio silence from it -- but its twin, Opportunity, continues on its mission, now more than 2,500 days beyond its originally planned 90-days. With all these eyes in the sky, I'd like to take the opportunity to put together a photo album of our Solar system -- a set of family portraits, of sorts -- as seen by our astronauts and mechanical emissaries. [ 38 photos ]
Any use of one of these images other than strictly private must be subject to prior authorization from firstname.lastname@example.org MARCH 7 & 8 : Discovery before return to Earth On March 7, the robotic arm is used for a last inspection of the protection tiles before landing.