Seeing is believing; that's why we built telescopes. But telescopes can only see so much. To get a real view of a place, you have to go there. And so we sent probes out into space.
Voyager. Mariner. Viking. Pioneer. The early attempts to get to know our solar system sent massive treasure troves of data back to Earth. They also provided amazing views of the planets that telescopes couldn't. But their technology was somewhat limited.
Since then, we've made huge strides in picture quality.
A "fresh" impact crater on Mars more than half a mile wide.
Even destruction can look beautiful.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captures an image of the Curiosity Rover on the surface of Mars.
Looks like a beach with some shallow water from above.
Jupiter's icy moon Europa is crisscrossed with long cracks, like a hard-boiled egg bashed with a spoon.
The cracks look like veins running across the moons surface in every direction.
It's easy to forget just how thin Saturn's rings are until you see them edge-on.
Near the top, a massive blue storm – so large that it has lapped itself – churns through the gas giant's atmosphere.
In the outer reaches of the solar system, Pluto shows off a surprising variety of colors
Pluto looks like an artist took some splatter paint to it like a canvas.
Looks like a space scene from Star Wars
This could also make a cool Pink Floyd album cover.
Enceladus Cracks Up Close
Who knew cracks could look so beautiful
Saturn's moon Enceladus from a distance.
Saturn's moon looks like a snowy wasteland from afar.
When the New Horizons orbiter flew by Pluto, it saw a curious landscape.
The ice on the surface is solid nitrogen, so the pits are believed to be formed by the process of gaseous nitrogen, warmed by Pluto's internal heat, freezing when it reaches the surface before sinking again.
Detail of the 90-mile wide, 2.5-mile high Wright Mons "cryovolcano" on Pluto.
I'm not sure what a "cryovolcano" is but i'm sure glad it's far away.
Pluto's moon, Charon, surprised NASA scientists with some of its features.
They expected a simple, cratered landscape, but found it contained mountains, canyons, and a variety of colors.
At the dwarf planet Ceres, the Dawn probe found an impact crater 16 miles wide.
You could run a half marathon and still not run the whole crater.
When it's night for those of us on the surface, it's easy to see where most of the people are.
This is cool to see what large populations are visible from Earth.
Sunrise over the ocean – traveling at 17,000 mph, ISS astronauts see sunrises every 90 minutes.
I can't imagine getting to see a beautiful sunrise every 90 minutes I feel lucky to see one a day.
Eye of the storm
A Storm like that looks scary even from up in space.
Chicago from above
The city looks big even from space.
Other galaxy's are pretty neat also
The fact that there are other galaxies out there that hold this beauty makes you wonder what else they hold.
Looks like a rip in space itself
Look like an entrance to a whole new world.
Florida from above
Florida is just as beautiful from space as it is while on the beach.