NASA's Most Awe-Inspiring Photos of the Last 50 Years

NASA's been able to accomplish a hell of a lot in its relatively short 58-year history. Thanks to a braintrust of engineers and a billion-dollar budget, it's sent men to the moon, rovers to Mars, probes into deep space, and even Matthew McConaughey into some weird wormhole. But besides all the groundbreaking discoveries about the universe and mankind, one of NASA's coolest contributions by far has got to be its collection of cool-as-hell space photos. These are some of our faves.

"Gumdrop Meets Spider" (Apollo 9 modules docking)

March 6th, 1969

Buzz Aldrin on the moon, shot by Neil Armstrong

July 20th, 1969

Apollo 11 lunar module ascent, shot by astronaut Michael Collins

July 21st, 1969

Apollo 13's safe splashdown in the South Pacific

April 17th, 1970

Mars' Utopian Plain from Viking 2

September 3rd, 1976

Jupiter's Great Red Spot as viewed by Voyager 1

February 1979

Robert Stewart on a tether-less spacewalk outside Shuttle Challenger

February 12th, 1984

Neptune captured by Voyager 2


James Newman outside Shuttle Discovery, Earth in the background

September 16th, 1993

"Nursery of New Stars" (a massive nebula captured by the Hubble Space Telescope)

January 17th, 1995

The Ring Nebula captured by the Hubble Space Telescope

October 1st, 1998

Hubble's sharpest view of the Orion Nebula

Between 2004 and 2005

A rare "triple eclipse" of three of Jupiter's moons

March 28th, 2004

International Space Station, as seen from Space Shuttle Discovery

March 25th, 2009

Aurora australis (the "southern lights") captured by the ISS while passing over the Indian Ocean

September 17th, 2011

mars rover selfie
<a href="" target="_blank">NASA</a>/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Rover Curiosity's self-portrait on Mars' Mount Sharp

August 5th, 2015

Galaxy cluster IDCS J1426

January 7th, 2016

Haze layers above Pluto captured by New Horizons

March 17th, 2016

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. He would make a miserable astronaut.