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The Best Science Photos of 2017

Antarctic Lifeline

A closer look at part of the convoy in Antarctica, as seen by France's Pleiades satellite.

(Image credit: Pléiades–CNES 2016, Distribution Airbus DS)

Antarctica's isolation stands out in this image of a resupply convoy to the Concordia Research Station, spotted from orbit by France's Pleiades satellite. The remote Concordia station on the Antarctic Peninsula is far from everything. It takes 10 days for supply convoys to reach the base. [Antarctic Lifeline Visible from Space (Photo)]

Floating moons

Elisabetta Bonora captured this image of Saturn, its rings and two moons from Cassini data.

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/Elisabetta Bonora)

One of Elisabetta Bonora's favorite pastimes seems to be exploring the raw images snapped from the Cassini spacecraft and creating something amazing from them. "It's wonderful to be able to take advantage of Cassini's eyes," Bonora said in a NASA statement. "I like to dream I am there too." Bonora, a video and web analyst who lives near Savona, Italy, said this particular image jumped out at her: "From the get go, I thought this image was a splendid example of great composition and beautiful geometry." The image shows Saturn on the left, with very thin rings that appear almost perpendicular to the field of view, she noted. "On top of the rings, right in the middle of the image, there are two moons (Rhea and Mimas) suspended in midair. It's simply a picture-perfect scene," she said. [See more of these amateur Saturn images.]

Naked dancer

naked ancient worm

(Image credit: Screenshot/Lars Fields/Phlesch Bubble Productions animation/copyright Royal Ontario Museum)

A new species of 500 million-year-old marine life used to do a naked dance on the seafloor. This bizarre creature, seen here in an artist's conception, lived between 540 million and 490 million years ago during the Cambrian period. It probably used its lower limbs to cling to the seafloor while its upper limbs waved about, snagging food particles from the water. [Ancient 'Naked' Worm Did a Little Dance to Catch Seafood]

Water Droplet Wasp

An artfully positioned rose is reflected in a spit-globe produced by a Malaysian wasp.

(Image credit: Lim Choo How/Caters)

A wasp seems to play ball with a water droplet in this macro image released in October. What the insect is actually doing is sucking up excess water from its nest and flicking it away. [Incredible Image of Bubble-Blowing Wasp Has a Scientific Explanation]

Destruction of Heritage

Satellite images showed significant damage to Palmyra's Tetrapylon and Roman theater in January 2017.

(Image credit: ASOR and DigitalGlobe)

A tragic loss of humanity's history is visible from satellite imagery released in January 2017. After the militant group ISIS invaded Palmyra, remote-sensing companies detected damage to two cultural monuments, the Tetrapylon and the Roman theater. This loss of cultural heritage came alongside reports that ISIS was using the theater as an execution ground.[ISIS Damages Iconic Monuments in Ancient Syrian City, Reports Say]

Buried in Pots

Here, the remains of children buried in pots at a cemetery in Adaïma, Egypt, dating to the Pre- to Early Dynastic period (5500 to 2700 B.C.).

(Image credit: Adaima excavation. Crubezy & Midant-Reynes, IFAO)

Remarkably well-preserved skeletons of children buried in pots date back between 5500 to 2700 B.C. This images, taken at Egypt's Adaïma cemetery, show a funeral tradition that may have symbolized the deceased's "rebirth" into the afterlife, according to a paper published this year in the journal Antiquity. [Were Egyptian 'Pot Burials' a Symbol of Rebirth?]

Dancing Octopus

(Image credit: Copyright Gabriel Barathieu/UPY 2017 )

As graceful as Ginger Rogers, an octopus flares its legs in this award-winning photograph from the Underwater Photograph of the Year 2017 competition. Gabriel Barathieu used a wide-angle lens to capture this shot in a tide pool in the Mayotte archipelago between the coast of Mozambique and the island of Madagascar. [Looming Octopus 'Dances' in Winning Underwater Photo]

Trump Moth

(Image credit: Vazrick Nazari)

President Donald Trump was everywhere in 2017 — even, apparently, bonking against your porch light. Canadian researchers named a new species of moth Neopalpa donaldtrumpi after the U.S. president, choosing the moniker because the moth's forward-combed head scales reminded them of the president's hairstyle. [Small Honor: Tiny Moth Named for Trump]

Flowing Fire

Yosemite Park Firefall

(Image credit: Peggy Sells/Shutterstock)

Yosemite's Horsetail Falls looks more like a lava flow in this shot taken in February by photographer Peggy Sells. The brilliant orange is actually caused by light from the sunset catching on the ribbon-like waterfall. This happens each year in February, for just a few minutes each evening when the sun angle is right and the sky is clear. [Flowing Fire? Yosemite's 'Burning' Waterfall Explained]

Giant checkerboard

idaho-checkerboard-space

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

One of the stranger views of 2017 was taken over Idaho, where a fresh coat of snow fell over land deforested in a checkerboard pattern, creating a weirdly regular impression in an otherwise wild stretch of land. The checkerboard is the historical remnant of 19th-century U.S. government land grants, according to NASA's Earth Observatory. [Chess, Anyone? Giant Checkerboard Spied from Space (Photo)]