A golden reflection

Described as “the world’s most elaborate artistic depiction of the human brain”, this work is the winner of the experts’ choice in illustration category of this year’s Vizzies awards for visualizing research data. To make the piece, entitled ‘Self Reflected Under White, Red, and Violet Light’, artists etched images of half a million neurons onto sheets of gold. Credit: Greg Dunn, Brian Edwards, Will Drinker

Cassini looks back

NASA’s Cassini probe has begun a spiralling descent towards Saturn that will culminate in a mission-ending plunge into the planet’s atmosphere. On 12 April, Cassini pictured Earth — the small dot in the centre of this image — for the last time. After spending 13 years exploring Saturn and its moons, Cassini began the final of its final manoeuvres this month, which send it circling into the region between the planet and the surrounding rings before its death dive. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Drawing in the deep

Science, j'écris ton nom

As part of the science marches that took place around the globe on 22 April, more than 500 researchers gathered around huge letters spelling out their support for SCIENCE, as a French satellite took their picture from space. ​The word was 84 metres long and 13 metres high. Credit: Pleiades © CNES 2017/Airbus DS

Operation IceBridge

Since 2009, NASA has been flying planes over polar ice to assess how ice coverage is changing as the planet warms. The exploration is part of a mission called Operation IceBridge. These ice fields near Canada’s Ellesmere Island — photographed on 29 March — are among those thinning in the Arctic. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Damsels not in distress

In northern Italy, photographer Roberto Aldrovandi found two damselflies apparently looking through a hole in a leaf. “They look like they are holding hands,” he says. “But they are not actually. They are just clinging to the leaf waiting for the first rays of the sun.” Credit: Roberto Aldrovandi/Solent News/REX/Shutterstock

Night lights

Areas on Earth where humans have effectively turned night into day are of interest to many researchers, who use ‘night light' images to track patterns of human settlement. But data are sparse: often from months or years in the past. NASA scientists are now working towards creating daily, high-definition pictures of Earth at night, and these shots are some of the first products of the project, with artistic clouds and sun glint added from real-world data. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens/Miguel Román/Goddard Space Flight Center

River piracy

Cuban crabs

As millions of land crabs in Cuba head to the sea to spawn in an annual migration, they inevitably come into conflict with other road users. Although this driver risks his tyres being punctured, the crabs pay a higher price. The photo was taken in Playa Girón, in the island’s west. Credit: Alexandre Meneghini/REUTERS