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12/13/2015
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NASA's 10 Best Images Of 2015

The year 2015 might go down as one of the best for NASA in terms of bringing the world exciting images from across the solar system. From our neighbor Mars to the outer reaches of Pluto, here are the 10 best pictures from NASA this year.
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By all accounts, NASA has had a banner year in 2015. Between spectacular mission successes, fascinating discoveries, and equally stunning photographic accounts of its findings, the space agency stayed in the headlines, month after month, with each new announcement.

By all accounts, the best photos NASA provides this year came from the farthest away.

In the first weeks of December NASA released its latest images -- the most highly detailed shots of Pluto we've seen so far, and the best close-ups of the dwarf planet that humans may see for decades.

These latest images form a strip 50 miles wide on a world 3 billion miles away. The pictures pass from Pluto's jagged horizon about 500 miles northwest of the informally named Sputnik Planum, across the al-Idrisi Mountains, over the shoreline of Sputnik, and across its icy plains.

While the photos from Pluto have no doubt been some of the most stunning shots we've seen from the space agency this year, they are far from the only images NASA has shared.

In addition to the sophisticated snapshots from NASA's highly technical cameras mounted on spacecraft, orbiting the earth, or located back here on terra firma, we were also treated to more than 8,000 photographs of NASA's various Apollo missions, which were put out on Flickr thanks to the efforts of Kipp Teague as part of a companion website to his "Contact Light" personal retrospective on Project Apollo.

[NASA is releasing images from its Apollo archives. InformationWeek picked some of our favorites to share.]

Come along on a quick trip through the universe with our picks for NASA's best photos of 2015, and be assured that we'll no doubt have even more spectacular images of Pluto and other far flung bodies to gawk at in 2016.

(All images courtesy of NASA)

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Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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BertrandW414
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BertrandW414,
User Rank: Strategist
12/18/2015 | 11:18:35 AM
Pretty Much Any of the Pluto Pictures
Pretty much any of the Pluto pictres would get my vote, but if I had to choose I'd go with the simple one of Pluto and Charon. I got really interested in the solar system in elementary school as a result of being a Star Trek (original series!) fan, and I think that the elementary school version of myself would be quite astonished that we managed to get a probe that far out and took pictures of the planet.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
12/18/2015 | 11:17:43 AM
Re: An icy body
These are all great photos. I'm particularly drawn to the Lonely Planet view of a small Earth rising over the horizon on the Moon. It is humbling to think about our busy planet being such a small piece of the entire cosmic tapestry.
shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
12/17/2015 | 5:23:46 AM
Re: An icy body
My vote will go to "Looking Down From High Above". It's simply amazing.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
12/15/2015 | 1:16:23 AM
An icy body

In my personal capacity I will go for the picture titked "an icy body in space". I am very fascinated and want to learn more about how that happens. In space where its presumably space what factors make it in that shape other than the planets own forces. Space is vast field to be studied and learned about.

nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
12/15/2015 | 1:10:54 AM
Re: Pluto

@Whoopty but one aspect that really surprised me is the contours of rocks so prominent. If we compare it with earth, in winter the whole lands gets covered with ice and we are not seeing any mountains or contours even after one season of snow. The pluto is there for billions of years and that is also very far from sun. If I think that its something covering the planet, it must have covered it completely and difficult to see the contours. I am not sure about it as I am not the expert but its a general thought. Any body having better knowledge please elaborate?

nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
12/15/2015 | 1:06:07 AM
Re: Pluto
@Whoopty true. I believe that the images are fascinating and keeps in them a large secrets to be studied. I am not sure whether we will be able to see any great progress as far as the farthest planet of our solar system in our life time but it really is a source of inspiration for generations to come and they might be having a closer look at this planet from different angel than what we are looking at it right now. What do you say?
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
12/14/2015 | 7:19:15 AM
Pluto
If we're talking pretty, I think the solar flare image wins it, but the more iconic are definitely the Pluto shots. Those are the best images we'll have of that far-flung-world for decades most likely, so it's exciting to think what details amateur and professional scientists will be able to glean from those images in the near future.

It's also quite the upgrade on the fuzzy 10-pixel images we had of Pluto before.
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