Snapped on Christmas Eve 2013, this jaw-dropping photo of NASA flight engineer Mike Hopkins perfectly captures the spectacle of space exploration: a glowing, pristine blue and white Earth contrasted against pure blackness, set behind a hovering man in a reflective helmet. It’s a striking image that cries out to be scrutinized again and again. But Hopkins’ shot isn’t the only breathtaking astronaut self-portrait out there.
Oxford Dictionaries defines the selfie as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself.” The astronaut selfie, therefore, might accurately be described as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself while floating about in space.”
The following ten pictures represent the very best in awe-inspiring astronaut selfies, variously featuring a sparkling Sun, a dazzling Earth, a suspended space station, a mirrorlike visor – and in some cases all four.
10. Akihiko Hoshide
Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide is responsible for one of the “best selfies of all time,” according to New York’s Daily News newspaper. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) flight engineer turned the camera on himself for this shot on September 5, 2012. It was during a spacewalk by Hoshide that lasted in excess of six hours, as part of JAXA’s Expedition 32 trip to the International Space Station (ISS). As well as the camera he used, other elements visible in Hoshide’s reflective visor are the Earth, NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and sections of a robotic arm. Oh, and that shiny object above Hoshide’s right shoulder is the Sun.
9. Richard Linnehan
NASA mission specialist Richard Linnehan had been to space on three previous occasions when he boarded the Space Shuttle Endeavour on March 11, 2008. The 15-day STS-123 mission would see him travel six million miles, orbit the Earth 250 times, perform three spacewalks totaling more than 22 hours – and take one hell of an astronaut selfie. The incredible photograph somehow manages to get the Earth in both the foreground and the background, with a perfectly in-focus helmet reflecting images of Endeavour and the International Space Station.