Out of this world: Best space photos of 2013

By by Jeremy Schultz, Reuters of Reuters | Reuters: NASA, JPL-Caltech, SSI
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The year's best space pictures

From awe-inspiring planets and stars to astronauts at work and stunning satellite images, a selection of the year's best photos from outer space. See gallery

Stunning Saturn photo: A natural-color image of Saturn from space, the first in which Saturn, its moons and rings, and Earth, Venus and Mars, all are visible, is seen in this NASA photo taken from the Cassini spacecraft on July 19 and released on November 12. The image captures 404,880 miles across Saturn and its inner ring system, including all of Saturn's rings out to the E ring, which is Saturn's second outermost ring. Cassini's imaging team processed 141 wide-angle images to create the panorama. Click through for more amazing space photos from the last year.

Reuters: NASA
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January: Hadfield and the bubble

Astronaut Chris Hadfield watches a water bubble float freely between him and the camera, showing his image refracted, at the International Space Station on January 21. In June, after returning from his mission, Hadfield announced that he was retiring from the Canadian Space Agency after 35 years.

Reuters: Amateur video via Reuters TV
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February: Meteorite in Siberia

The trail of a meteorite crossing the early morning sky above the Siberian city of Kamensk-Uralsky on February 15, as captured by a driver's dashboard camera.

Reuters: NASA-JPL-Caltech
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February: Supermassive black hole

An artist's illustration showing a supermassive black hole surrounded by matter.  Supermassive black holes are enormously dense objects buried at the hearts of galaxies, and the matter seen flowing onto the black hole is called an accretion disk. This disk forms as the dust and gas in the galaxy falls onto the hole, attracted by its gravity.

Reuters: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team
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February: A star is born

A NASA illustration shows cosmic clouds and stellar winds as well as the star LL Orionis. Adrift in Orion's stellar nursery and still in its formative years, variable star LL Orionis produces a wind more energetic than the wind from our own middle-aged Sun. This picture is part of a large mosaic view of the complex stellar nursery in Orion, filled with a myriad of fluid shapes associated with star formation.

Reuters: Chris Hadfield
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February: Lake Baikal from space

Lake Baikal in Siberia, Russia, is pictured in a photo taken by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield aboard the International Space Station on February 26.

Reuters: NASA, ESA
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March: A stellar flash

The star V838 Mon in an artist's rendering released by NASA on March 18. Mon's outer surface suddenly greatly expanded and it became the brightest star in the entire Milky Way Galaxy in January 2002. Then, just as suddenly, it faded. A stellar flash like this had never been seen before.

Reuters: ESA-NASA-JPL-Caltech-STScI
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April: Magellanic Cloud

The Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy in infrared light as seen by the Herschel Space Observatory and NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

Reuters: Sergei Remezov
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May: An astronaut in training

NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg checks equipment during a training session at Baikonur cosmodrome on May 17. Nyberg was part of a three-person team who visited to the International Space Station in May.

Reuters: Gary Hershorn
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May: Triple conjunction

A triple conjunction of the planets Venus, (bottom), Jupiter (left) and Mercury (top), is seen in the sky over the Statue of Liberty in New York on May 26.

Reuters: NASA
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May: Mount Sharp selfie

A self-portrait of NASA's Mars Curiosity rover on the road toward Mount Sharp was released on May 30.

Reuters: NASA
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May: Sunrise from the ISS

The sun about to come up over the South Pacific Ocean is seen in this photo taken by one of the Expedition 35 crew members aboard the International Space Station on May 5.

Reuters: NASA
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June: A room with a view

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, an Expedition 36 flight engineer on the International Space Station, uses a 400mm lens to photograph a target of opportunity on Earth some 250 miles below him in on June 10, 2013.

Reuters: Stringer
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June: Safe landing

Astronauts, left to right, Zhang Xiaoguang, Nie Haisheng and Wang Yaping salute after returning to earth in the re-entry capsule of China's Shenzhou-10 spacecraft at its main landing site in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on June 26. The three Chinese astronauts completed a successful 15-day mission in which they docked with a manned space laboratory.

Reuters: NASA
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July: Wash and float

NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, aboard the International Space Station, demonstrates how she washes her hair in zero gravity on July 12.

Reuters: NASA
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July: Storm clouds over the Atlantic

A large mass of storm clouds over the Atlantic Ocean near Brazil and the Equator in a photo taken by an Expedition 36 crew member aboard the International Space Station on July 4. A Russian spacecraft, docked to the orbiting outpost, partially covers a small patch of sunlight on the ocean waters in a break in the clouds.

Reuters: Mike Brown
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August: We have lift-off!

A US Air Force Wideband Global SATCOM mission lifts off on a Delta IV rocket from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 7.

Reuters: NASA, Ken Ulbrich
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August: Dream Chaser

The Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Dream Chaser flight vehicle is readied for 60 mph tow tests at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, California. The privately owned prototype space plane aced its debut test flight in California but was damaged after landing when a wheel did not drop down. The Dream Chaser is one of three space taxis under development in partnership with NASA to fly astronauts to the International Space Station following the retirement of the space shuttles.

Reuters: NASA, JPL, University of Arizona
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August: Noctis Labyrinthus

A view of the Noctis Labyrinthus region of Mars, taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on August 31. Targeting the bright rimmed bedrock knobs, the image also captures the interaction of two distinct types of windblown sediments. Surrounding the bedrock knobs is a network of pale reddish ridges with a complex interlinked morphology.

Reuters: Shamil Zhumatov
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September: Blasting off

The Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft carrying the International Space Station (ISS) crew of U.S. astronaut Michael Hopkins, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy blasts off from the launch pad at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on September 26, 2013.

Reuters: Chris Perry, NASA
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September: Frog takes flight

The blast from the launch of NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) blows a frog into the air at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on September 6.

Reuters: NASA, Solar Dynamics Observatory
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October: A solar eruption

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which constantly observes the sun in a variety of wavelengths, captured this image showing solar material erupting as a 200,000-mile-long filament ripped through the sun's atmosphere, leaving behind what looks like a canyon of fire, on September 29 - 30.

Reuters: Hubble Space Telescope, NASA
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October: The most distant galaxy yet

Astronomers found the most distant galaxy yet, a finding that pushes back scientists' view of the universe to about 700 million years after its creation. Light from the galaxy took about 13.1 billion years to reach the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, both of which detected the galaxy in infrared light.

Reuters: Shamil Zhumatov
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November: Olympic logo heads to space

The Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft, emblazoned with the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games logo and a blue-and-white snowflake pattern, blasts off with the International Space Station crew of Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio from the launch pad at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on November 7.

Reuters: NASA Ames, JPL-Caltech
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November: Kepler-62e

An artist's depiction of Kepler-62e is shown in this NASA handout provided on November 4. Kepler-62e is a super Earth-size planet in the habitable zone of a star smaller and cooler than the sun, located about 1,200 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lyra. One out of every five sun-like stars in the Milky Way galaxy has a planet about the size of Earth that is properly positioned for water, a key ingredient for life, a study found.

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November: Comet ISON

Comet ISON moves towards the sun in this image from ESA/NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory captured at 10:51 a.m. EST on November 28, courtesy of NASA. This image is a composite, with the sun imaged by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in the center, and SOHO showing the solar atmosphere, the corona.

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