The San Diego Zoo's 9-week-old giant panda cub has completely opened his eyes and is now beginning to scope out the world around him.
Zoo veterinarians and keepers performed their weekly exam on the growing cub earlier this week, assessing his health and taking measurements. The cub (who will not be named until he is 100 days old, according to Chinese custom) weighed 6.6 pounds (2.99 kilograms), had a chest girth of 13.7 inches (35 centimeters) and an abdomen girth of 15.5 inches (39.5 cm). His growth is right on track with other cubs born at the zoo, according to a zoo statement.
[Full Story: Oh Hai: Panda Cub Completely Opens Eyes]
A pair of NASA space telescopes have captured a spectacular new photo of the Helix Nebula, a glowing celestial vision that resembles a giant cosmic eye.
The Helix Nebula (also known as NGC 7293) represents a dying star known as a planetary nebula. The new picture, released Wednesday (Oct. 3), combines data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, which observes in long-wavelength infrared light, and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), which picked out the short-wavelength ultraviolet light coming from the object.
[Full Story: Giant Eye In Space Seen by NASA Telescopes]
Discovered a new type of acorn worm, scientists have. Named it after Yoda, they did.
The reddish-purple worm was found about 1.5 miles (2.5 kilometers) beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, and has large lips on either side of its head region that reminded researchers of the floppy-eared Stars Wars character. Its full scientific name is Yoda purpurata, or "purple Yoda."
[Full Story: Newly Discovered Acorn Worm Named After Yoda ]
The universe just got a new speeding ticket.
The most precise measurement ever made of the speed of the universe's expansion is in, thanks to NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, and it's a doozy. Space itself is pulling apart at the seams, expanding at a rate of 74.3 plus or minus 2.1 kilometers (46.2 plus or minus 1.3 miles) per second per megaparsec (a megaparsec is roughly 3 million light-years).
[Full Story: Speed of Universe's Expansion Measured Better Than Ever]
Comets detected around other stars appear strikingly similar to the most primitive comets in the solar system, researchers say.
The discovery suggests that matter around distant stars mixed in ways similar to the solar system in its youth, scientists added.
[Full Story: Alien Comet Cloud Spotted Around Faraway Star]
A bizarre dinosaur had vampire-like fangs, a parrot beak and porcupine bristles, researchers say.
The ancient creature, which was found 50 years ago in southern Africa but drew relatively little attention until now, may shed light on the evolution of the major group of dinosaurs that included famous giants such as Stegosaurus and Triceratops.
[Full Story: 'Dracula' Dinosaur Had Bristles and Fangs ]
An astronaut aboard the International Space Station snapped this photo showing smoke from several wildfires snaking through Idaho's river valleys on Sept. 3.
Some of the smoke can be seen drifting to the east (note that the image is rotated so that north is to the right), carried by the wind. But much of the haze was trapped closer to the ground when air cooled at night and became denser, confining the smoke to the valleys.
[Full Story: Astronaut Photo Shows Wildfire Smoke Over Idaho ]
On Monday morning (Oct. 8), Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner will attempt to break the world record for highest-ever skydive, leaping from a balloon nearly 23 miles above Earth’s surface.
If all goes according to plan, Baumgartner will step into the void 120,000 feet (36,576 meters) above southeastern New Mexico early Monday, then plummet to Earth in a harrowing freefall that will see him become the first skydiver to break the sound barrier.
[Full Story: Daring Skydiver to Attempt Record-Breaking Supersonic Freefall Monday ]
A stunning display of the northern lights brightens the sky in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada on Oct. 1, 2012. This light show is the result of a coronal mass ejection, or a burst of solar particles and wind, three days before. When these solar particles interact with Earth's upper atmosphere, they cause colorful, shimmering aurora like this green-and-purple specimen.
Vegetation collides with desert in Oregon in this satellite image that shows the stark climate divide caused by the Cascade Range's rain shadow.
A rain shadow is a phenomenon caused by moist air blowing in from the Pacific Ocean to the west. The air sweeps up the Cascades, losing pressure as it gains elevation. As a result, it cools and is unable to hold as much water. The moisture falls on the mountains as rain or snow, contributing to the lush greenery of the mountain range.
On the other side of the mountains, though, the air drops again, pressurizes, and warms up. As a result, little rain falls on the eastern side of the mountains, resulting in the desert landscape seen here in enhanced color.
In this image captured by the Landsat 5 satellite in 2011, you can also see Mount Hood's glacial summit as a spot of bright blue.