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The Best Science Photos of 2017

Lioness nurses leopard

Panthera 1

(Image credit: Joop Van Der Linde/Ndutu Lodge)

Nothing like this has ever been seen in the wild before. But this summer, a 5-year-old lioness was caught on camera nursing an infant leopard. The unprecedented moment took place at Tanzania's Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It's unclear how the baby leopard found the mother lion, who had cubs around the leopard's age. [Wild Lioness Nurses Leopard Cub in 'Unprecedented' Sighting]

Larsen C cracks

An instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image on July 12, 2017, revealing the giant iceberg that just calved from Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf.

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

After months of watching a rift widen in Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf, scientists finally saw the sea ice separate. This image, taken on July 12, 2017, shows a view of a Delaware-sized iceberg drifting on the Weddell Sea. The iceberg is 99 miles (159 km) long. [See the New Trillion-Ton Antarctic Iceberg in Image from Space]

Adorable Japanese Space Robot

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's JEM Internal Ball Camera, called Int-Ball, can record video in space while remote controlled from the ground.

(Image credit: JAXA)

How cute can you get? This ball-shaped space drone, "Int-Ball," comes courtesy roboticists with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Here, it floats through the Destiny laboratory on the International Space Station. The drone is made to snap photos and video, which could take some of the workload off of space station astronauts. [BB-8 Flies? Adorable Japanese Drone Ball Tours Space Station]

Jet Lightning

The Gemini Observatory cloud cam on Mount Kea in Hawaii captured imagery of jet lightning, also known as gigantic jets.

(Image credit: Gemini Observatory/AURA)

A burst of the tallest kind of lightning in the world shoots from the ground in an image captured by the Gemini Observatory’s cloud camera on Mauna Kea in Hawaii on July 24. The phenomenon is a "gigantic jet," a type of lightning which can reach more than 50 miles (80 km) above ground level. [Jet Lightning! Rarely Seen 'Gigantic Jets' Spotted by Cloud Cam (Video)]

Amazing Eclipse

Diamond Ring Eclipse

(Image credit: Aubrey Gemignani/NASA)

Perhaps no moment in 2017 brought the country together more than the Great American Solar Eclipse on August 21. A swath of the country arcing from South Carolina to Oregon witnessed totality, the complete coverage of the sun's face by the moon. This photo taken from Madras, Oregon, shows the "diamond ring" glint of the last moment of light. [Photos: 2017 Great American Solar Eclipse]

Active Sun

As the moon covers all but the slightest sliver of the sun from a vantage point in Wyoming on Aug. 21, 2017, a solar flare is visible on the upper right quadrant of the sun's surface.

(Image credit: John Mitchell)

This image taken during the partial eclipse phase of the 2017 total solar eclipse shows a solar flare erupting off the sun as the moon slips across the sun's face. This image was taken from outside of Thermopolis, Wyoming. [Totally Active: Eclipse Photos Reveal Sunspots, Solar Flares]

Eye of a Hurricane

(Image credit: U.S. Air Force)

Not many people get to see a hurricane from inside the eye, but the U.S. Air Force Hurricane Hunters regularly brave monster storms to take measurements. The team took this photograph from inside the eye of Hurricane Irma on Sept. 6. [Inside Irma's Eye: Hurricane Hunters Capture Jaw-Dropping Photos]

Jumping Jerboa

(Image credit: Haydee Gutierrez)

A jerboa seems to levitate as it extends its long legs to leap. This desert rodent hops and skips on two hind legs to escape predators, a strategy that researchers found was more unpredictable than scampering on four legs. [Zigzagging Rodents Dodge Death with Unpredictable Moves]

Jaguar versus caiman

A jaguar ambushes a giant jacare caiman high up on the Three Brothers River in the Pantanal in Mato Grosso, Brazil, on Sept. 26, 2017.

(Image credit: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty)

It's mammal versus reptile in this stunning image of a battle to the death between a jaguar and a caiman in Brazil. Caiman are often hunted by jaguar, but it's rare for a photographer to be in the right place to witness an attack. United Kingdom-based wildlife photographer Chris Brunskill watched this battle, which the caiman lost, from a boat on the river. [Jaguar v. Caiman Death Battle Photographed in Brazil]

Bronze Arm

(Image credit: Brett Seymour/EUA/ARGO)

A hand reaches forward from the past in this image of an artifact from a famous Greek shipwreck. The Antikythera shipwreck was discovered in 1900 and is still yielding discoveries from its rich cargo, which went down about 2,085 years ago. This bronze arm was discovered on a recent expedition along with other statue fragments and remains of a wooden hull. [Bronze Arm Found at Antikythera Shipwreck]