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14 Of The Most Mesmerizing Science Photos From This Week

Dazzling diamonds, super-shiny space telescope mirrors, some seals chilling by the Thames, Matt Damon, and more.

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NASA/C. Gunn / Via

Two test mirror segments for the James Webb Space Telescope are inspected by an optical engineer. There will be 18 mirror segments in total, all covered in a thin layer of gold, as seen on the segment on the left of this photograph.

ESA/Hubble and NASA and S. Smartt (Queen's University Belfast) / Via

Part of a messy barred spiral galaxy NGC 428, as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. It's 48 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Cetus (The Sea Monster).

ESA/IPEV/PNRA–B. Healey / Via

There's a 13-strong crew spending nine months at the Concordia research station in Antarctica. For 100 days, the sun won't rise above the horizon there — but at least this aurora australis popped by to bring some light into their life.

Anetta Banas / Via

Most diamonds found near the surface of Earth formed deeper underground. Chemical impurities that get stuck in these diamonds can give us information about these inaccessible regions. A study published in Nature this week analyzed fluid from diamonds found in the Northwest Territories, Canada.

John Stillwell / PA Wire/PA Images

A group of seals chill out on mud flats in the Thames Estuary. More than 2,000 seals have been spotted in the Thames over the last 10 years, according to the Zoological Society of London.

NASA / Via

Rare "red sprites" are visible from the International Space Station during a thunderstorm over Mexico earlier this month. The sprites are bright flashes of light and only appear for a few milliseconds, so are difficult to catch on camera.

Guillermo Granja / Reuters

This is the Cotopaxi volcano in Ecuador — one of the world's highest active volcanoes — photographed on Aug. 18. Increased activity around the volcano has led President Rafael Correa to declare a state of emergency.

Bill Ingalls / Getty Images

Matt Damon, who will star as a NASA astronaut in the upcoming film The Martian, stopped by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he made handprints in their "Mars Yard" testing ground alongside Mars Science Lab Project Manager Jim Erickson (left) and NASA Astronaut Drew Feustel (right).

Kelly Oakes is science editor for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

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