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A large celestial mosaic taken by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Space clouds. Two large clouds of gas and dust dominate this striking image captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Young stars form in the nebulas, before growing larger and producing strong winds that blow the clouds away — as is happening around the bright cluster of stars in the top right of the larger nebula. Spitzer’s infrared cameras snapped this image in 2009, before the observatory ran out of liquid helium coolant, but the photo was released to the public for the first time in May.

An Asiatic black bear photographed by an unmanned camera installed in the Korean Demilitarised Zone

Border bear. This rare Asiatic black bear was captured on camera roaming across an unusual wildlife sanctuary: the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea. The 4-kilometre-wide, 250-km-long strip of land dividing the Korean Peninsula has become a de facto nature reserve, home to hundreds of species of plants and animals that flourish in the absence of humans. The bear was snapped by one of 92 cameras set up in the DMZ by South Korea’s National Institute of Ecology in 2014.

One of thirteen enormous animatronic predators that have arrived at Chester Zoo

Sssspecial delivery. It might look like something out of the new Godzilla movie — but 60 million years ago, this 13-metre-long snake really did live on our planet. Chester Zoo, UK, is displaying animatronic models of Titanoboa cerrejonensis and a dozen other massive extinct predators as part of the ‘Predators exhibition, which opened in May. The zoo wants to use the exhibition to highlight the threat of extinction faced by modern-day animals.

NASA's InSight camera photographed these drifting clouds at sunset

Martian sunset. As the Sun set on Mars, NASA’s InSight rover snapped this picture of clouds drifting across the sky. The images were taken by InSight’s Instrument Context Camera, which gives a fisheye view of the ‘workspace’ where the lander deploys its instruments. These include the domed seismometer seen here, which in April detected a marsquake.

A rescued and rehabilitated spotted seal is released into the sea in Dalian, China

Seal splashdown. A spotted seal is returned to the sea off the coast of Dalian in China’s Liaoning Province in the country’s northeast. In February, authorities discovered that 100 of the protected animals had been abducted by poachers. This lucky seal was among the 61 survivors that were nursed back to health before being released into their natural habitat.

An EF-2 tornado begins to rope out on the outskirts of Magnum, Oklahoma

Tornado outbreak. Devastating storms battered large parts of the United States over the last two weeks of May. The Midwest was particularly badly hit, experiencing an unusually large number of tornadoes, like the one pictured here, near Magnum, Oklahoma.

The spacecraft that will carry NASA's next Mars rover at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

Vacuum test. NASA’s Mars 2020 spacecraft is prepared before being tested in a vacuum chamber at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which simulates the conditions of interplanetary space. The spacecraft will blast off in mid-2020, delivering NASA’s next Mars rover to the planet seven months later.

Fossilised footprints of a giant, flightless Moa bird discovered in a New Zealand river.

Ancient footprints. These footprints were left behind by a moa, a giant extinct bird native to New Zealand, and are the first to be discovered on the country’s South Island. A local resident noticed the markings underwater while going for a dip in the Ryeburn River. He alerted staff at the Otago Museum, who temporarily diverted the river and excavated the fossilized imprints, which could be several million years old.

Footage of the Soyuz-2 booster being struck by lightning during it's launch

Lightning strike. Russia’s Soyuz-2 rocket was hit by lightning shortly after its launch on 27 May. Despite the dramatic strike, the craft successfully went on to deploy its payload, a satellite that forms part of the country’s GLONASS navigation system.

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