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The Hottest Space Porn of 2015

We got up close and personal with a bunch of beautiful space rocks this year.

by Victoria Turk
Jan 27 2017, 5:16pm

Ceres in false colour. Image: NASA/Dawn Mission

If 2014 made space look easy, 2015 made it look hot.

Thanks to boundary-pushing missions that have taken us closer than ever before to a bunch of photogenic space bodies and increasingly high resolution imaging capabilities, the year has brought us some truly awe-inspiring pictures.

Here's some of the best space porn of the past 12 months (and we're not talking Pornhub's ambitious plan to shoot an adult scene in orbit).

Pluto

Everyone's favourite dwarf planet Pluto got its close-up in 2015, as NASA's New Horizons spacecraft finally made its flyby in July after a nine-year journey. In the weeks and months following, we've been so spoilt for choice with sexy Pluto shots that this whole post could frankly consist of nothing else.

We got great pictures of its love-heart bedecked surface:

Image: NASA/APL/SwRI

And almost obscenely high-resolution images of its icy, mountainous, crater-pocked topology:

Image: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

NASA even got a bit modern art with this trippy image that uses colour to highlight different Pluto regions:

Image: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

If you were in any doubt of quite how intimate these portraits were, this gif compares the crispness of the New Horizons shots we've got now to the best we could manage with the Hubble telescope before:

Misellaneous Moons

Pretty she might be, but Pluto ain't the only space rock in the sky. On its way to the former full-planet, New Horizons also got a few snaps of its largest moon Charon, which revealed an impressive canyon system and a distinctive reddish spot at its northern pole (the image is in enhanced colour):

Image: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Not to be outdone, moons of other (proper) planets also showed us some of their best angles this year. NASA's Cassini spacecraft brought us stunning views of Saturn's moon Enceladus as it prepared to plunge into its icy spray in October:

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Oh, and our own Moon just couldn't resist photobombing Earth and mooning a camera on the DSCOVR spacecraft, as shown in this animation:

Image: NASA/NOAA/via GIPHY

Nice of you to pop by, Moon, it's not like we were expecting some good pictures of you four months earlier or anything.

2015's Other Favourite Dwarf Planet

While Pluto hogged the limelight, another dwarf planet posed for its 15 minutes: Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt, showed off its mysterious bright spots to NASA's Dawn mission. Closer inspection brought us more images, which researchers consolidated into a stunning flyover video that shows Ceres in unprecedented false-colour detail. Those luminous spots are still pretty mysterious, though.

Image: from video by NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/NPG Press/via GIPHY

Old Friends

As well as getting to places we haven't seen before this year, an uptick in the quality of images space researchers are able to get these days produced some real visual delights. Take this video of the Sun, which features images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory but in unprecedented high definition and took 300 hours to make. Suggestion: Full-screen this baby and keep it on your monitor in place of the Netflix log fire channel.

NASA also used its 4K trick to sex up an Orbital ATK launch earlier this month. Just get an eye full of that slow burn at 07:20:

If you want to see quite where we're at, let's close out the year by turning the camera on ourselves. Picture the iconic "Earthrise" or "blue marble" images from the 60s and 70s. Got it? Courtesy of a composite of images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, this is our 2015 version:

Image: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University