Above: This picture of Africa's Okavango River is a compilation of three images taken by the Earth-observing Envisat satellite. The river originates in Angola, forming part of the Angola-Namibia border, and empties into the inland Okavango Delta in northern Botswana.
In this image, the river has formed a depression in the Kalahari basin, a semi-arid, lowland area that covers parts of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In Afrikaans, the Kalahari is called "Dorsland," which translates to "thirsty land." Less «
This week marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, the most famous battle of the American Civil War. From July 1 to July 3, 1863, soldiers…Read More »
from the Union and Confederate states clashed near this small town in southern Pennsylvania.
The Battle of Gettysburg was also the American Civil War's deadliest: Of the 160,000 soldiers who met on the battlefield, more than 51,000 were killed, injured, missing or captured at the end.
This image reveals the landscape around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, as it was observed by NASA's Landsat 8 satellite on May 14, 2013. Based on 2010 census data, the town has a population of approximately 7,620 people. At the time of this image, many surrounding farms are still bare or newly planted. Less «
3 of 20
Happy Fourth of July!
Credit: National Park Service
Fireworks may not have been part of the original celebration when Congress signed the Declaration of Independence, but these dazzling aerial displays have…Read More »
become a time-honored tradition on the Fourth of July.
In this photo from the National Park Service, colorful fireworks explode over the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The United States Capitol, Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial are all visible in the background. [5 Dazzling Facts About Fireworks] Less «
4 of 20
A Hippo Reunion
Credit: Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo
These two adorable hippopotamuses, named Otis and Funani, live in a 150,000-gallon pool at the San Diego Zoo. After spending the past 2 1/2 years apart,…Read More »
Otis and Funani were reunited this week, and animal care staff at the San Diego Zoo are now preparing the duo to live together full time. Previously, Otis and Funani alternated their days on exhibit at the zoo, while Funani cared for their calf, Adhama, who was born on January 28, 2011. [Fun video: Hippo Weighed on Giant Scale]
Hippos are known to be social animals, and tend to live in groups of 10 to 30 in the rivers and lakes of central Africa. [More photos: Edinburgh Zoo's Pygmy Hippos] Less «
5 of 20
Tiger Cub Names Honor Wimbledon Champ
Credit: Alex Riddell/Highland Wildlife Park
When Andy Murray won the Gentleman's Championship yesterday (July 7) at Wimbledon — the first British man to do so in 77 years — he probably didn't know…Read More »
he was going to receive an honor apart from the coveted trophy. Scotland's Highland Wildlife Park has commemorated their countryman's historic win with a distinctly fuzzier prize: Two wee tiger cubs named in his honor.
The two Amur tiger cubs, born on May 29, will be named "Murray" and "Viktor" to honor the tennis player's "incredible victory," the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland said in a release.
"Although we have used Russian names for our previous tiger births, it is an honor to be able to name one of our newest arrivals after Andy Murray and pay homage to his remarkable achievement," said Una Richardson, the park's carnivore head keeper.
Amur tigers, the largest tiger subspecies, hail from eastern Russia and northeastern China and are considered critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Tiger cubs like Murray and Viktor born in captivity are part of an effort to preserve the species' genetic diversity. Less «
6 of 20
Lightning over the Desert
Credit: ESO/G. Hüdepohl
In this photo, taken on June 7, 2013, a furious thunderstorm rages over the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. This part of the Atacama Desert is home to…Read More »
the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory. On average, this region experiences an astonishing number of clear days —roughly 330 days a year. Lightning over the observatory is rare, since it located in one of the driest places in the world.
Four VLT Unit Telescopes can be seen atop Cerro Paranal, which rises 8,530 feet (2,600 meters) above sea level. Each of these telescopes is the size of an eight-story building.
A solitary star, called Procyon, is also visible on the left of the image. This star is a bright binary star in the constellation of Canis Minor (The Lesser Dog). Less «
7 of 20
Return of the Red Panda
Credit: Andera Edwards/Smithsonian's National Zoo
Rusty the red panda caused quite the stir two weeks ago when he wandered out of the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C. The plucky critter was…Read More »
safely found later that day in the Adams Morgan neighborhood.
A thorough investigation conducted by animal care staff determined that Rusty likely escaped from his enclosure through the exhibit's tree canopy. Since then, the trees and plants around the red panda enclosure have been significantly trimmed, and an additional wall was built next to the upper part of the viewer balcony.
As a precaution, zoo staff kept Rusty at the zoo's vet hospital for over a week after he was retrieved, in order to monitor his health. On July 9, Rusty returned to his exhibit, and was reunited with his female companion, Shama.
The mesmerizing blue swirls in this picture are part of an ocean storm, or eddy. These offshore, circular currents of water can churn up nutrients that…Read More »
are normally found in colder, deeper waters.
This photo of an eddy off the coast of Italy was taken from the International Space Station by now-retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield on March 10, 2013. Hadfield launched to the space station in December 2012 and spent five months aboard the orbiting outpost. During that time, he became the first Canadian astronaut to command the International Space Station, as leader of Expedition 35.
Throughout Hadfield's most recent spaceflight, the astronaut shared stunning photos and educational videos from orbit, becoming a social media sensation and fan favorite. A month after returning to Earth, Hadfield announced his retirement from the Canadian Space Agency. The retired Canadian Armed Forces colonel flew in space three times and was Chief of International Space Station Operations from 2006 to 2008. [Chris Hadfield's Most Memorable Moments in Orbit] Less «
This artist's impression captures the birth of a massive baby star inside a dark cloud located about 10,000 light-years away from Earth. The star is 500…Read More »
times the mass of the sun and is many times more luminous. In fact, it is the largest one seen so far in the Milky Way galaxy.
Astronomers used the new ALMA telescope (short for Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array) in Chile to peer into the stellar womb and study the nascent star. Their observations revealed that matter is being dragged into the center of the giant cloud by the gravitational pull of the newborn star along a number of dense threads, or filaments. [Video: Dark Cloud is Creating a Monster Star] Less «
10 of 20
Wildfire Burns In Red Rock Canyon
Credit: Adam Loehnert/National Park Service
Wildfires have been particularly cruel this summer, torching arid landscapes and killing historic numbers of firefighters. In the above photo, a wildfire…Read More »
burns just a short drive from the Las Vegas strip.
The Carpenter 1 wildfire, as it is called, is burning in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, 17 miles (27 kilometers) west of Las Vegas, and visible from the famous strip. The park is named after the large, red sandstone peaks that rise and fall across the terrain. Red Rock Canyon was Nevada's first National Conservation Area. More than one million people each year visit the area's 195,819 acres.
More than 1,000 people are battling the Carpenter 1 wildfire, which has forced hundreds of residents to flee the area. Lightning is suspected as the cause of the fire, which has burned nearly 30,000 acres.
In June, a deadly wildfire in Yarnell Hill, Ariz, claimed the lives of 19 firefighters, the most of any fire in the past 80 years. The fire is now contained, but not before the blaze burned more than 8,300 acres and destroyed 114 structures.
Credit: Claire Fackler, NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries
A colorful surge wrasse (Thalassoma purpureum) swims in the waters of the Kure Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Kure is made up of a shallow lagoon surrounded…Read More »
by a ring-shaped barrier reef. It is the northernmost coral atoll in the world, and is located 55 miles (89 kilometers) beyond the larger Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Surge wrasses are typically found in shallow surge zones of outer reef flats. These fish feed on zooplankton and hard shell invertebrates, including snails and crabs. [Related: Photos: The Freakiest-Looking Fish] Less «
12 of 20
This striking view of the Namib Sand Sea in southern Africa was captured by South Korea's Kompsat-2 satellite on Jan. 7, 2012. The Namib is the world's…Read More »
oldest desert, and stretches roughly 13,125 square miles (34,000 square kilometers) along Africa's southwestern coast — from Angola, through Namibia to South Africa.
In the satellite photo, the blue and white area is the Tsauchab, a dry stream bed that only carries water during rare rainfall in the Naukluft Mountains to the east. Black dots of vegetation are concentrated near the river's main route, and the bright white patches are salt deposits.
The Uyuni Salt Flat (Salar de Uyuni) is the largest salt flat in the world, covering more than 4,000 square miles (10,350 square kilometers) in southwest…Read More »
Bolivia. This photo shows the salt flat's so-called "eyes," which function as outlets for subterranean rivers.
"Salars" are closed basins in which evaporation of mineral-rich waters gives rise to thick salt deposits. The Uyuni Salt Flat's crust of salt covers a pool of briny water that is exceptionally rich in lithium. This water bubbles to the surface at the eyes of the salt flat. [Earth Quiz: Mysteries of the Blue Marble] Less «
14 of 20
Cruising Around on the Ocean Floor
Credit: Photo provided courtesy of Stephen Frink for NOAA's Aquarius Reef Base at Florida International University
An "aquanaut" works inside a DeepWorker submersible exploration vessel on the ocean floor during a NASA-led mission that aimed to simulate aspects of a…Read More »
real mission to an asteroid. The 16th expedition of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations Program, or NEEMO 16, took place from June 11 to June 22, 2012.
During that time, four crewmembers lived at the Aquarius Underwater Laboratory, which lies 62 feet (19 meters) below the ocean's surface, roughly 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers) off the coast of Key Largo in the Florida Keys.
The fury of Lake Superior was seen recently as a gale sent waves crashing against Miner's Beach in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Pictured Rocks National…Read More »
Seashore is named for the towering, multicolored sandstone cliffs that line this Michigan shore. These cliffs soar some 200 feet (60 meters) above the lake. Visitors will also be wowed by the lakeshore's beaches, sand dunes, waterfalls, lakes and northern hardwood forest along the more than 40 miles (64 kilometers) of this area of Lake Superior. Pictured Rocks is a perfect place for outdoor adventurers during all four seasons. Hiking, camping, boating and other activities await.
Lake Superior is the largest, deepest and coldest of all the Great Lakes. Superior is the world's third-largest freshwater lake by volume and the largest by volume in North America. The lake is bounded by Ontario and Minnesota to the north and west, and Wisconsin and Michigan to the south.
on July 19, was taken by the Cassini spacecraft, which has been orbiting Saturn since 2004.
The picture shows Earth as a tiny spot of light shining in the background, with a glowing Saturn and its distinctive rings shimmering in the foreground. Last week, NASA invited the public to wave at Saturn at the exact time the photo was taken. More than 20,000 people participated in the photo op, according to agency officials. [See more spectacular photos of Earth from Saturn] Less «
17 of 20
March of the Ladybugs
Credit: Brian Ireley, Smithsonian
Last week, thousands of ladybugs were the stars of a public event held in Washington, D.C., as part of the Living Earth Festival. On July 19, Smithsonian…Read More »
horticulturists released 9,000 ladybugs on the National Mall, and children and adults were invited to take part in the festivities at the National Museum of the American Indian.
Ladybugs help gardens grow by controlling aphids and acting as a natural pesticide for plants, rather than chemicals. Earlier this year, some 72,000 ladybugs were released inside the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., to control the population of pesky aphids that were wreaking havoc on the mall’s 30,000 live plants. Less «
18 of 20
Hiking The Narrows in Zion National Park
Credit: Gary Leverett/National Park Service
Here's one for the adventure bucket list: hiking the sun-splashed slot canyons in Utah's first national park.
Zion National Park where deep, narrow "slot canyons" have been carved by the Virgin River. Hiking these massive, multicolored sandstone cliffs of cream, pink and red is considered one of the best hikes in the Colorado Plateau. Utah has the largest concentration of slot canyons in the world.
Some of the most amazing slot canyons in Zion National Park have a New York City flair. There's The Subway, named for its quarter-mile tube-like structure. There's also Wall Street, named for the high cliffs that resemble the angles of the buildings in the financial capital.
Hiking in Zion National Park is about more than communing with nature. It's also about following in the footsteps of ancient native people and pioneers, who followed these same paths. Humans began settling here around 8,000 years ago.
Utah's canyons can also be grand. The most famous canyon in Zion National Park is called Zion Canyon, which is 15 miles (24 kilometers) long and up to half a mile (800 meters) deep.
There's no need to adjust your screen. This satellite image may seem strange and pixelated, but that's precisely how it's supposed to look, according to…Read More »
NASA officials. The view was captured by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer aboard NASA's Earth-watching Terra satellite, which records observations in the shortwave infrared and thermal infrared wavelengths.
Different types of debris — including volcanic ash, rocks from landslides, airborne dust or polluting soot — have unique "spectral fingerprints" that are visible to satellites in different wavelengths. Rock debris with higher silica content (such as granite) show up as shades of orange and red, and debris with less silica (such as gneiss) appears yellow. Less «
20 of 20
Credit: Rosamond Gifford Zoo
It's twins! The Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, N.Y. welcomed a baby female and male markhor last month, on June 23, 2013. The female, named Sasha, weighed…Read More »
5.5 pounds at birth, while the male, named Turgan, weighed in at 7 pounds, according to zoo officials. The new markhor siblings already have an older sister, Marisa, who was born on July 20, 2012.
The markhor is the largest member of the goat family, and they are known for their distinctive corkscrew horns. The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is home to one of three species of markhor, originally from Tajikistan. Markhor usually dwell in mountainous regions, including cliffs and grassy foothills.
Markhor were listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature in 1994. It is estimated that 2,500 markhor live in the wild, and while conservations efforts have helped the wild population rebound, herds are still being reduced by trophy hunting, habitat destruction and competition from domestic livestock, according to zoo officials. The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is among roughly a dozen zoos nationwide with markhor on exhibit. [Ten Species Success Stories] Less «