It was a tremendous year for science in 2016, as scientists plunged deeper than ever into Earth's past, identified a new solar neighbour in Earth's present, and caught a first glimpse into the very fabric of space-time itself, opening new avenues for the future of physics.
The list is by no means exhaustive, as one could easily pack this list with more than 10 space- or health-related entries. We've left those stories for another day, and instead are focused on a few representative breakthroughs from different areas of science.
1. Gravitational waves
American physicists announced this year that they have detected gravitational waves in space-time for the very first time, effectively opening up a new way for physicists to study the gravitational properties of massive bodies in space.
Researchers from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced the discovery in February, after detecting tiny ripples in the fabric of space-time caused by the collision of two enormous black holes.
They announced the detection of a second series of waves in June.
The discovery verifies one of Albert Einstein's last unproven theories of the universe, which posits that a gravitation wave bends reality ever so slightly as to be nearly imperceptible.
Scientists finally managed to perceive one of those bends in reality by building a billion-dollar laser instrument and tuning it to listen to some of the largest objects in existence: massively dense black holes.
2. New clues on earliest humans in North America
Two studies published this year offered significant challenges to the commonly-held timeline of human migration into North America, which posits that they crossed over to the continent from Asia via a land bridge at the Bering Strait some 15,000 years ago.
The first study, published by a team of American researchers in May, suggested humans were hunting mastodons in the area of modern-day Florida approximately 1,500 years earlier than once thought. The study was based on radiocarbon-dated artifacts recovered from the fossil of a slain mastodon, which was found at the bottom of a river.
The second study suggested the first humans may not have used ice sheets to cross from Asia to Western Canada some 14,000-15,000 years ago, because there would not have been enough flora or fauna for them to eat during their journey. The researchers, including several Canadian scientists, came to their conclusion based on a number of sediment cores taken from B.C. and Alberta.
3. HMS Terror found in Arctic
While most of this year's scientific breakthroughs were looking ahead, one discovery finally shed light on a prominent mystery from Canada's past.
Scientists announced in September that they had finally found HMS Terror, the lost flagship from Sir John Franklin's ill-fated expedition to find the Northwest Passage in the 19th century. The vessel was found in (no surprise) Terror Bay, 24 metres below the surface off the coast of King William Island in the Canadian Arctic.
HMS Terror was found just two years after the expedition's other lost ship, HMS Erebus, was located. The two ships were less than 100 kilometres apart.
The two vessels were lost along with all 129 crew members after setting out on their mission in 1845. Scattered reports and rumours from the area suggested some members of the crew might have survived the sinking of the two ships, only to die in the harsh climate. Those reports only fed the legend of the ill-fated expedition.
Now, historians and scientists will have a chance to shed some more light on what actually happened to the Franklin Expedition.
4. Old ruins, aged cheese and ancient beer
Archeologists discovered some fascinating artefacts and ancient ruins this year, including a 7,000-year-old Israeli settlement, evidence that certain biblical texts are older than once thought, and an ancient ceremonial platform that was hiding in plain sight in Jordan.
It was also a huge year for shipwreck discoveries. Israeli divers found a Roman shipwreck filled with treasure off the coast of Israel, and a sunken ship from Vasco da Gama's fleet was found off the coast of Oman, more than 500 years after it sank.
Two shipwrecks also yielded some incredible finds for culinary historians. Divers recovered some not-so-finely aged Brie cheese in a 17th-century shipwreck, and brewmasters whipped up a batch of beer using preserved yeast from an 18th-century shipwreck beer.
5. SpaceX rocket performs vertical landing
Amid all of its Wile E. Coyote-like misfires, SpaceX managed to achieve a significant step in rocket science this year, with the landing of a Falcon 9 rocket on a drone platform at sea. The unmanned rocket successfully touched down on Apr. 8, after delivering a payload to the International Space Station.
SpaceX repeated the feat two more times in May, but a fourth attempt ended in failure in June.
6. World's oldest fossil
The fossilized remains of one of Earth's earliest lifeforms were discovered in Greenland this year, offering a glimpse into what life on our planet (and potentially Mars) would have looked like some 3.7 billion years ago.
The fossilized stromatolite microbes were found in rocks exposed by melting along Greenland's southwestern coast.
Scientists say the discovery will help paint a more accurate picture of what the world was like when life was just emerging on the planet.
The fossil is 220 million years older than the previous title-holder, which was found in Australia.
7. Where dinosaur babies come from
Scientists took a monster-sized step toward understanding the difference between male and female dinosaurs this year, with the discovery of a pregnant Tyrannosaurus rex fossil.
The 68-million-year-old fossil was found in Montana, where the beast roamed approximately 68 million years ago.
The fossil included the T. rex's medullary bone – a bone found in female birds before and after they lay eggs. The bone is chemically distinct from most other dinosaur bones.
8. World's most advanced weather satellite launched into orbit
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration launched its most advanced satellite ever into space last month, to monitor all kinds of weather activity in the United States. The GOES-16 (previously known as the GOES-R) is capable of tracking hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, lightning storms, volcanic ash clouds and even solar flares.
The data is expected to make it easier for NOAA scientists to monitor and predict dangerous weather patterns.
9. Ninth planet in the solar system
With a number of probes exploring our solar system and many telescopes pointed at the stars beyond, it would be easy to fill this list with photos of planets, asteroids and other newly discovered space phenomena.
But if we had to pick one discovery, it ought to be the near-confirmation that there is a ninth planet orbiting the sun. (Sorry, Pluto.)
Scientists from the California Institute of Technology say they are certain that the long-hypothesized Planet X exists, based on mathematical models and gravitational signatures of the solar system. The as-yet unnamed planet (don't worry, there are still plenty of Roman gods' names to go around) is thought to be a gas giant roughly the same size as Neptune. Based on predictions, the planet might take in the neighbourhood of 15,000 years to orbit the sun.
Astronomer Mike Brown predicts someone will spot the planet with a telescope in the next few years. "I would rather somebody find it sooner, than me find it later," Brown said in revealing his findings.
Brown previously led the movement to have Pluto downgraded from planet to dwarf planet status.
10. Earth-like planet next door
OK, so we couldn't stick to one discovery from space.
European astronomers announced the discovery of an Earth-like planet orbiting our sun's closest neighbour, the star called Proxima Centauri, in August.
The planet is small and rocky, but it was deemed Earth-like for its ideal distance from its sun, and the potential for liquid water to exist on its surface. However, it's unknown whether the planet has a suitable atmosphere for sustaining life, or if it has a magnetic field like Earth. It might also be deadly to humans because of its proximity to the nearby red dwarf star, which bombards it with more X-ray radiation than our own sun gives off.