Pictures We Love: A Selfie in Space and a Trip to the Bottom of the Sea

National Geographic’s Proof blog invited the photography and design teams of National Geographic magazine to look back through the hundreds of photographs from the over 75 stories published in 2013 and select one photo that spoke to their heart, intrigued them, inspired awe, made them smile—in short, to choose their favorite photo from this past year. Over the next several days we’ll bring you a round-up of the breathtaking, the touching, the extraordinary, the imperfect, and the beautiful.

Bill Douthitt, Senior Editor, Special Editions

Being a science fiction geek, this picture of a glowing mysterious craft holds natural appeal for me. Though it may look like a fanciful spaceship, the mission of DEEPSEA CHALLENGE is quite real—to reach the deepest part of the ocean. Mark Thiessen’s brooding depiction of Jim Cameron’s one-man submarine is a perfect way to show this vehicle dedicated to exploring the unknown.

Yet the picture came about quite by accident. During a night test dive, the sub surfaced some distance away from the recovery ship—a situation that took place only once during the expedition. Mark was in the water and realized that the brilliant lights of the ship as it approached to recover the sub would highlight the craft in an exceptionally dramatic way. He quickly swam to the front of the sub and then dove below it, waiting to make this picture, which became the lead to the story.

Elaine Bradley, Senior Design Editor

Since 1997, NASA has been sending rovers to Mars to document the soil, dig up rocks, and take pictures of the Martian landscape. But never before has a rover managed to take photos of itself. On August 8, 2012, the aptly named Curiosity touched down and made this ultimate selfie. Stitched together from 63 images, it shows the entire rover and even the imprints in the sand of its scoop and wheels—but not the seven-foot robotic arm that was holding the camera.

As we all know, a self-portrait is not a unique achievement. But to take one from 34.8 million miles away is extraordinary.

View these photographs and more in our interactive Year in Review.

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