A space selfie is a selfie (self-portrait photograph typically posted on social media sites) that is taken in space. This include selfies taken by astronauts (also known as astronaut selfies), machines (also known as space robot selfies and rover selfies) and by an indirect method.
The extra-vehicular activity (EVA) equipment used by astronauts during spacewalks contains a specially designed camera for photography in outer space. The main purpose of the EVA camera is to take pictures of the subjects related to the missions.
There have been many space selfies, some of which use the visor of another astronaut's helmet as the mirror. Early space selfies after the word "selfie" was first used in 2002 without assistance from another astronaut included Donald Pettit and Stephen Robinson. Pettit took one during the Expedition 6 in January 2003. Robinson took his during the repair of the Space Shuttle Discovery on August 3, 2005, as part of the STS-114 mission.
Another notable space selfie was taken by Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide during the six-hour, 28-minute spacewalk on September 5, 2012. Hoshide's photo became a viral phenomenon after Commander Chris Hadfield uploaded the photo to his Twitter account on September 30, 2013. Coincidentally, Oxford University Press, the publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary, announced in November 2013 that "selfie" was the word of the year for 2013. The picture topped many selfie lists of the year. Another space selfie of Hoshide also showed up on Instagram and appeared on a list of top selfies of 2013.
Space selfies can be dated back to 1976 when the lander of the Viking 2 mission took the photo of its deck after landing on Mars; however they were not considered by Discovery News as true selfies in its list of top 10 space robot selfies. In 2010, IKAROS launched by Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) included two wireless cameras that were ejected out of the spacecraft for the sole purpose of taking "hand free" space selfies. A blog entry about the photos was posted in 2010 and the link was posted on Twitter in 2013.
Curiosity, which landed on Mars in 2012, was equipped with the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera. It can maneuver its robotic arm and turn the attached camera around to take its head shots. Discovery News described the maneuver as the way to take a truly authentic selfie and gave it the title King of Selfies in 2013.
The first ever space selfie on another planet was taken by the Curiosity rover on September 7, 2012 based on the local time at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the base of the operations in Pasadena, California. It was taken while the clear dust cover of the lens was closed giving a blurry image. The image was slightly modified and posted on its Facebook account on September 8, 2012 with the message:
Hello, Gorgeous! Snapped this self portrait while inspecting my MAHLI camera with its dust cover intentionally left on. This was a test to make sure the cover, its hinge the area it sweeps when it opens are clear of debris.— NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover, https://www.facebook.com/MarsCuriosity
Oh, @OxfordWords... Need an illustration for #WOTYselfie? For your consideration. pic.twitter.com/EKNafzYsyp— @MarsCuriosity, https://www.twitter.com/MarsCuriosity
During a brief period, an alternative method was presented as available by which a person could, without being in outer space, indirectly take space selfies. This was promoted as part of the crowdfunding efforts for the Planetary Resources's ARKYD mission. The ARKYD "space selfie" method would have allowed donors to upload their own photos to the telescope orbiting the Earth; the telescope would have had a robotic arm equipped with a camera and a small screen to display the picture of the donor on one surface of the telescope, and the on-screen image of the donor was to be visible to the lower part of the camera (with the Earth as the background) allowing a space selfie to be taken.
A similar service was launched in 2014 by Belgian startup SpaceBooth. The SpaceBooth Low Earth Orbit pico-satellite will project uploaded images in front of a transparent window and then take a picture of the projection with space in the background. The space selfie will then be sent back to the Earth.
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- Media related to Space selfies at Wikimedia Commons