Space selfies: Alexander Gerst

Photo: NASA

Several years after Time magazine named it as one of its top 10 buzzwords of 2012, the selfie remains a cultural phenomenon, and that designation extends far beyond our own planet.

These days, space selfies are generally defined as self-portrait images shot by astronauts and uploaded directly to social media accounts, like the one above taken by German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst on a space walk. However, it's important to remember that self-portraits in space have been around a while — long before the word selfie existed.

Just ask legendary NASA astronaut Buzz Aldrin:

Space selfies: Buzz Aldrin

Photo: NASA

In what is celebrated as the very first space selfie, the Earth looms behind Aldrin as he completes a space walk during the 1966 Gemini 12 mission.

Of course, whether selfies were taken today or in the 1960s, the purpose of these otherworldly photos remains the same — to inspire humankind to appreciate and learn more about our planet and the infinite universe that surrounds it.

Continue below for several other notable space selfies taken over the years by astronauts (as well as one very special robot).

Space selfies: Aki Hoshide

Photo: NASA

The sun glares behind JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide as he poses for a selfie during an extravehicular activity session on Sept. 5, 2012 next to the ISS.

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Space selfies: Sam Christoforetti

Photo: NASA

This one's for all the "Star Trek" fans out there. Italian ESA astronaut Sam Christoforetti donned a red Star Trek uniform aboard the International Space Station for her truly immaculate Captain Kathryn Janeway cosplay. Her caption? "There's coffee in that nebula ... ehm, I mean... in that Dragon."

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Space selfies: Neil Armstrong

Photo: NASA

Although this iconic image is generally considered to be a portrait of Buzz Aldrin, if you look closely into the glassy visor, you'll notice that it's also a self-portrait of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong.

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Space selfies: Ron Garan and Mike Fossum

Photo: NASA/JSC

In this photo captured on June 3, 2008, NASA astronaut Ron Garan is pictured inside the reflection of fellow astronaut Mike Fossum's helmet visor.

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Space selfies: Clayton Anderson

Photo: NASA

The shadow of NASA astronaut Clayton Anderson appears against some solar array panels during a space walk on the ISS in July 2007.

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Space selfies: Mars Curiosity Rover

Photo: NASA

Human astronauts aren't the only ones capturing out-of-this-world selfies in space. Soon after landing on the Martian surface, the Curiosity Rover snapped this impressive robot selfie.

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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

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