Space photos: First images from our solar system

Photo 'firsts' from space

NASA Principal Investigator for New Horizons mission Alan Stern (L) and Co-Investigator Will Grundy (R) hold up an enlarged, out-dated U.S. postage stamp with the words "PLUTO NOT YET EXPLORED", during the celebration of the spacecraft New Horizons flyby of Pluto, at NASA's Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, July 14, 2015.
Mike Theiler | Reuters

The close encounter with Pluto by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft gives scientists unprecedented images of the dwarf planet.

At 9 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, the spacecraft sent messages back to mission operations at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, confirming it had completed its mission, ending nerve-wracking hours for the craft's operators on Earth.

In honor of the achievement, here is a gallery of historic first images spacecraft have taken of other objects in the solar system.

— By CNBC's Robert Ferris
Posted 15 July 2015

Man on the moon

Buzz Aldrin is shown standing beside the United States flag on the moon in 1969.
SSPL | Getty Images

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin plants the U.S. flag on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969.


The Great Dark Spot on the surface of Neptune, as observed by the Voyager 2 spacecraft, 1989. The spot, thought to be a swirling mass of gases, had disappeared by 1994, to be replaced by a similar spot in a different location.
Space Frontiers | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft took the first image of the the Great Dark Spot on the surface of Neptune in 1989. By 1994, the Hubble telescope showed that the spot shown here had disappeared, but a similar one surfaced elsewhere on Neptune.


This color picture of Mars was taken July 21--the day following Viking l's successful landing on the planet.

Here's the first color photograph taken on the surface of Mars, by NASA's Viking 1 probe on July 21, 1976.


The surface of Mercury, as photographed by the Mariner 10 craft, circa 1974.
Space Frontiers | Hulton Archive | Getty Images

NASA's Mariner 10 photographed the surface of Mercury 1974.


The cloud-covered planet Venus, the second planet from the Sun.
MPI | Getty Images

The first closeup of Venus, the second closest planet to the sun, was taken by the Mariner 10 spacecraft in 1974.


One of the first ever pictures of the moon taken by Dr J W Draper of New York in 1840.
J.W. Draper | London Stereoscopic | Getty Images

One of the first ever pictures of the moon, taken by J. W. Draper of New York in 1840.


Whole Earth from space - view from Apollo 17 December 1972. First photograph of south polar ice cap. Most of Africa visible also Arabian Peninsular and Madagascar (Malagasy).
Universal Archive | Getty Images

A view of earth taken from Apollo 17 in December 1972. This was the first photograph showing the south polar ice cap.


Photographed by one of the Voyager spacecraft. The largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter is a type of planet known as a gas giant, with an atmosphere composed mainly of hydrogen and helium. The atmosphere contains distinctive banded cloud formations, and a number of large storms, such as the white oval just to the right of centre in the photograph. The famous Great Red Spot is a storm larger than the Earth and has been in existence for at least 300 years. NASA�s two Voyager spacecraft were launched in 1977 to explore the planets in the outer solar system. Voyager 1 flew past Jupiter at 278,000 kilometres in March 1979 before flying on to Saturn.
SSPL | Getty Images

The planet Jupiter, the largest in the solar system, was photographed by one of the Voyager spacecraft in 1979.


In this handout provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the dwarf planet Pluto.
Source: NASA

This image was taken by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) aboard NASA's New Horizons spacecraft, on July 13, 2015, when the spacecraft was 476,000 miles (768,000 kilometers) from the surface


This view of the Earth appearing above the lunar horizon, taken by astronauts during the Apollo 11 mission.
SSPL | Getty Images

The earth appearing above the moon's horizon was photographed by astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 mission.