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Our picks for space exploration's most memorable faces

See larger Captain James Tiberias Kirk, Starfleet's youngest captain and commander of the U.S.S. Enterprise in the “Star Trek” series, is an iconic character known for his courage and confidence in leading his “ship.” The handsome playboy captain, most famously portrayed by William Shatner, made following him through every high-stakes never-ending galactic adventure seem like any sane 23rd century woman's dream.

Photo by NASA

Captain James Tiberias Kirk, Starfleet's youngest captain and commander of the U.S.S. Enterprise in the “Star Trek” series, is an iconic character known for his courage and confidence in leading his “ship.” The handsome playboy captain, most famously portrayed by William Shatner, made following him through every high-stakes never-ending galactic adventure seem like any sane 23rd century woman's dream.

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  • John Glenn was the first man to orbit Earth and the third American in space, establishing a precedence for all other characters on this list. His launch on the Friendship 7 spacecraft in 1962, while lasting only 5 hours, set a precedence for decades of space exploration. Glenn has since remained in the spotlight, particularly after his election to the U.S. Senate in 1974.
  • Sally Ride was the first American woman and the youngest American to enter space. With a bachelor's degree in English and physics, a master's and a Ph.D in physics, Ride was a crew member on the space shuttle Challenger in 1983. She has been inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame for her pharmaceutical research while in space, and her many achievements since. Her success makes her the only, and subsequently the best, woman on our list.
  • Buzz Aldrin, 81, a retired U.S. Air Force pilot, mechanical engineer and the second human to walk on the moon, is quite possibly one of the most renowned space explorers, and not just because of his cameo appearance on “The Simpsons.” Aldrin performed the world’s first successful spacewalk in 1966 on the Gemini 12 orbital mission. Then, in 1969, Aldrin and Neil Armstrong became the first two humans to walk on the moon on the Apollo 11 mission.
  • Captain James Tiberias Kirk, Starfleet's youngest captain and commander of the U.S.S. Enterprise in the “Star Trek” series, is an iconic character known for his courage and confidence in leading his “ship.” The handsome playboy captain, most famously portrayed by William Shatner, made following him through every high-stakes never-ending galactic adventure seem like any sane 23rd century woman's dream.
  • The half human and half Vulcan Commander Spock of “Star Trek,” has claimed his way to fame as the distinguished, logical and level-headed adviser to Captain Kirk. Best known for his diplomacy as an ambassador for the Federation, we'd recognize those pointy ears anywhere.
  • This face is actually connected with two other faces on our list: Tom Hanks and Buzz Aldrin. Buzz Lightyear is the co-leader of Andy's Room with cowboy toy Woody, played by Hanks, in the 1995 movie. His character is also named after Apollo 13 commander Buzz Aldrin. The disillusioned action figure became one of the most popular characters of the Disney Pixar franchise. While the “space ranger” remains in a state of denial to the fact that he is a toy and not an actual space explorer, his bravado and space suit convinced all other toys in Andy's Room that he would actually travel “To infinity and beyond!”
  • What would this list be without Darth Vader? He is the definition of the villain, as Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia's long-lost father and the central character in the “Star Wars” trilogy. He battles Luke and the gang across numerous episodes, and finally sacrifices himself for his son. The cloaked and masked super-villain makes the Green Goblin and Osama Bin Laden seem like boy scouts.

In honor of a recent major astrological event (the lunar eclipse for those of you hiding under a rock or don't have access to Google), Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers' staff has compiled a list of eight of the most recognizable faces associated with space exploration (one for each planet of the solar system since Pluto’s been booted). Take a look and see how many you know!

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