Pluto close-up, distant galaxies and other out-of-this-world photos from 2015. Here are our picks for the 15 best of the year.
NASA’s New Horizons probe flew by Pluto on July 14, 2015, sending back humankind’s first up-close images of the dwarf planet.
Comet 67P from 317 million miles away from Earth.
This image was taken from the Rosetta spacecraft on July 14 from a distance of 100 miles from the comet center.
New Blue Marble
NASA releases its new “Blue Marble” photo — the first such photo since 1972.
Hello From Mars
This low-angle self-portrait of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows the vehicle above the “Buckskin” rock target on Mount Sharp, where the mission collected its seventh drilled sample.
The Twin Jet Nebula
Taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, the Nebula is a striking example of a bipolar planetary nebula formed when the central object is not a single star, but a binary system.
Sunset on Mars
NASA’s Curiosity rover captured this view of a Martian sunset on April 15. This was the first sunset observed in color by Curiosity.
Saturn’s geyser-spurting moon Enceladus
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft flew within 96,000 kilometers (60,000 miles) of Saturn’s moon Enceladus to capture this view of the moon’s terrain.
Charon, the largest of the five known moons of Pluto
Massive canyons and fractures are clearly visible on Charon, a moon which is more than half of Pluto’s size, in this enhanced color photo released on Oct. 1.
Pluto’s Blue Haze
Pluto’s haze layer shows its blue color in this picture released on Oct. 8, captured by the New Horizons spacecraft.
Hurricane Danny From the ISS
Danny then became a hurricane on Aug. 20, and peaked as a Category 3 with maximum sustained winds up to 115 mph on the afternoon of Aug. 21, 2015. This made Danny the first major hurricane of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season.
From a Million Miles Away, Moon Crossing Earth
An image released by NASA on Aug. 6 shows a unique view of the Moon as it passed between the Deep Space Climate Observatory spacecraft and the Earth on July 16.
Japan’s HTV-5 cargo arrives at the Space Station
The Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle-5 (HTV-5) resupply spacecraft successfully arrived at the International Space Station.
Hurricane Jimena’s Eye wall from Space
Jimena peaked as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph on Aug. 29, 2015.
Saturn’s polar hexagon
The wavy outline of Saturn’s polar hexagon is visible while the moon Tethys is just barely seen below the planets ring plane. The view was captured by the Cassini spacecraft at a distance of approximately 1.5 million miles from Saturn.
Earth appears to rise over the lunar horizon
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this view of Earth from the spacecraft’s vantage point in orbit around the moon.