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The Best Science Photos of 2017

Blue River

Meltwater channels are carved into DeVries Glacier in the Canadian Arctic. This aerial image was captured on March 29, 2017.

(Image credit: NASA Goddard/Jeremy Harbeck)

A sinuous river of meltwater flows through the DeVries Glacier on Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic. This shot was taken from an aircraft on March 29, 2017 by NASA's Operation Icebridge Mission, which surveys both the North and South poles each year. [Arctic Palette: Vivid Blue-Hued Channels Cut Through Glacier (Photo)]

Finally a Flying Car?


(Image credit: AeroMobil)

It's been a sci-fi dream for decades: A flying car in every garage. The Slovakia-based company AeroMobil announced in April that consumers can preorder a real-life flying care of their very own. The vehicle is designed to meet standards for both aircraft and road vehicles, but still has to pass regulatory muster. The company claims it will start selling the aircraft in 2020, and the price tag is likely to come in around $1.6 million. [Real Flying Car Will Be Available for Preorder This Year]

Antarctic Meltwater

Seen from an aircraft, a 400-foot-wide (120 meters) waterfall drains off Antarctica's Nansen Ice Shelf into the ocean.

(Image credit: Won Sang Lee/Korea Polar Research Institute)

A waterfall of meltwater flows from Antarctica's Nansen Ice Shelf into the ocean. This 400-foot-wide (120 meter) flow is part of an alarming pattern of melt, researchers reported in a new survey released in April. At least 700 pools, channels and rivers of melt flow across the surface of the continent in every direction, the researchers found. [Hundreds of Meltwater Streams Found Flowing Across Antarctica]

New Mama

(Image credit: Animal Adventure Park)

The Internet was captivated by pregnant giraffe April this spring. The giraffe, a resident of Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, New York, became a star when park officials trained a webcam on her in anticipation of her labor. Timing a giraffe's delivery date is not easy, so viewers waited for weeks. The baby watch finally paid off when April delivered her calf at 9:54 a.m. on April 15. Here, the new mom grooms her newborn. [Diet, Exercise and 'Giraffe Hugs': Up Close and Personal with April and Her Baby]

Worm of Nightmares

(Image credit: Marvin Altamia)

Less cute than a baby giraffe? A 3-foot-long worm. This is one of the first photos of the giant shipworm, Kuphus polythalamia, a tubeworm that lives inside a giant tubular shell. The shells have been seen for centuries, but this years is the first time that scientists saw the slimy worms inside. [An Ocean 'Unicorn': 3-Foot Marine 'Worm' Seen for 1st Time]

Iceberg Footprints

These plough marks in the central Barents Sea were likely formed by huge flat-bottomed floating icebergs, bigger than the ones floating in the Arctic today.

(Image credit: Courtesy of British Antarctic Survey)

The criss-crossing lines in this colorful image are the footprints of ancient icebergs. The image comes from an atlas of the sea floor released this year called "Atlas of Submarine Glacial Landforms." It shows the bottom of the Barents Sea in the Arctic Ocean. [Hidden World of Canyons and Ridges Revealed on Polar Seafloor]

Saturn's Eye

Giant Eye: Cassini Snaps Saturn Hexagon

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

Saturn's northern polar vortex peers into space like an unblinking eye in this image taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The odd angular shape of the vortex is due to the planet's hexagonal jet stream. [Hexagon Eye of Saturn Stares into Space in Stunning Photo]


A bright diagonal purple line of light in the sky

(Image credit: Dave Markel Photography)

This is Steve. Steve is a strange feature of the northern lights, discovered this year by citizen skywatchers. While the aurora borealis usually shimmers across the sky in horizontal streaks, Steve shows up repeatedly in the northern latitudes as a purple or green light streaking vertically across the sky. One of the ESA's Swarm satellites has flown through Steve's stomping grounds, revealing that the feature is caused by a 16-mile (25 km) ribbon of gas flowing through a hot section of the atmosphere. [An Aurora Called 'Steve'? Strange Sky Phenomenon Investigated]

Natron Lake

The crimson glow in Tanzania's Lake Natron, shown here in an image captured from the Landsat 8 satellite on Marck 6, 2017, is caused by salt-loving microbes called haloarchaea.

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

The bizarre chemistry of Lake Natron, Tanzania turns the view red in this image taken by the Landsat 8 satellite on March 6, 2017. Lake Natron is famous for its high pH, which rivals Milk of Magnesia at 10.5. Volcanic minerals and salts in the soils around the lake drive this high pH, which in turn allows red-hued microbes called haloarchaea to thrive. ['Stone Animal' Lake Seen from Space in All Its Crimson Glory]

Spooky Darkness

sunglint in the arabian sea

(Image credit: Jeff Schmaltz/NASA)

Smoke monster? No, this eerie darkness spreading off the coast of Saudi Arabia is simply an artifact of sunglint on the Arabian Sea. Sunglint is a phenomenon of light reflecting off of mirror-smooth ocean waters. Waves disrupt sunglint, as seen in the region of darkness in this satellite image. [Eerie Dark Swath Extends Across Arabian Satellite Photo]

Stephanie Pappas
Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science. She covers the world of human and animal behavior, as well as paleontology and other science topics. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has ducked under a glacier in Switzerland and poked hot lava with a stick in Hawaii. Stephanie hails from East Tennessee, the global center for salamander diversity. Follow Stephanie on Google+.