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2012: The year in space

  • Martian panorama
    This view of Mars was created by a series of pictures taken by Nasa’s Curiosity Rover, which is on a 23-month exploration of the planet’s surface. (Copyright: Nasa)
  • Solar flares
    The Sun is expected to reach a peak in its magnetic activity in 2013, and we saw the largest solar flares in years, such as this one on 23 January. (Copyright: AFP/Getty Images)
  • Sun silhouettes
    A seagull captured in shadow as the planet Venus crossed in front of the Sun in June. The next transit of Venus isn’t expected until December 2117. (Copyright: AFP/Getty Images)
  • Digs in space
    Planetary Resources announced it plans to mine asteroids for rare minerals. This conceptual pic shows what craft they could build. (Copyright: AP/Planetary Resources)
  • Let's do launch
    SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket blasted off on 7 October 2012 carrying the Dragon CRX-1 – the first privately-run supply mission in space history. (Copyright: AFP/Getty Images)
  • End of the road
    The Space Shuttle Endeavour made its final journey across the US on a Boeing 747, before being towed 12 miles through the streets of Los Angeles to its new home. (Copyright: AP)
  • Black sun
    We saw a total solar eclipse on 14 November, with the best views in the southern hemisphere, such as this pic taken in Palm Cove, Australia. (Copyright: Getty Images)
  • Man in the mirrors
    A worker looks on as mirrors are readied for the James Webb Space Telescope, due to be launched in 2018 to try and find galaxies formed in the early Universe. (Copyright: Nasa)
  • Memorable mission
    Chinese technicians at the Jiuquan Space Centre monitor the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft – carrying China's first woman astronaut, Liu Yang. (Copyright: Getty Images)
  • Land of darkness
    The Suomi NPP satellite recorded images of the Earth’s surface at night, showing the blazing of city lights – or not, in the case of North Korea. (Copyright: Nasa)
A collection of some of the year's best space images, from Curiosity Rover's mission to Mars to the swansong for a space exploration legend.

More amazing image galleries of the year:

The year in technology

A year of discovery

People of the year

The year in weather

The year in wildlife

Weird and wonderful

Future visions

Places

New frontiers

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