NASA's Aqua satellite captured this photo on Oct. 21, 2013, when fall colors were at or just past their peak in central and eastern Pennsylvania. The forests along the ridge lines of the Appalachian Mountains were the most colorful. [Related: The Rich Colors of Fall Foliage] Less «
Located near Moab, Utah, Arches is a landscape…Read More »
of contrasting colors, landforms and textures unlike any other in the world. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, not to mention hundreds of pinnacles, fins and massive balanced rocks.
Not only will this red rock wonderland amaze with its formations, but linger after the sun goes down for awe-inspiring star gazing. But bundle up, temperatures can swing as much as 50 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) here. Arches is located in a high desert, where the elevation ranges from 4,085 to 5,653 feet (1,245 to 1,723 meters) above sea level. From this vantage point, observers will see the Milky Way, the cloud-like band in the above image.
As brilliant as the night sky appears in Arches National Park, the view is under threat from encroaching development. Light pollution from nearby towns has become evident in the last few years. To date there is no federal legislation mandating preservation of the night sky, according to the park's Web site.
NASA scientists snapped this pristine shot while flying over Antarctica in December 2012. The researchers surveyed the …Read More »
ice sheet and mountains from a U.S. Air National Guard LC-130 aircraft.
Next week, NASA's Operation IceBridge will kick off a new season of monitoring ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice. This year, the mission will be stationed in Antarctica for the first time, enabling researchers to conduct more science on longer flights over the icy continent. Previously, Operation IceBridge flights took off from Punta Arenas in southern Chile. [Related Images: NASA's IceBridge in Action Over Antarctica] Less «
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Rare solar eclipse
On Nov. 3, the moon passed in front of the sun, blocking its light in a rare celestial event known as a …Read More »
hybrid solar eclipse. The hybrid eclipse began as an annular, or "ring of fire," eclipse along the path of totality, then shifted to a total eclipse, as the sun became fully obscured by the moon.
The celestial event, which was visible from eastern North America to the Middle East, was also spotted by the Suomi NPP satellite in orbit. The satellite snapped this image of the moon's shadow over the Gulf of Guinea, extending into western Africa. Three orbits of the Suomi NPP satellite are displayed in this image, each separated by approximately 97 minutes. [Related: The 7 Most Famous Solar Eclipses in History] Less «
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Somewhere over the rainbow
Credit: Mark Dornblaser, U.S. Geological Survey
An eye-catching rainbow lights up the sky over Eagle, Alaska. Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey snapped this pretty shot in June 2002, during…Read More »
a research trip to the Alaskan outpost.
Eagle is located on the southern bank of the Yukon River, near the border between Alaska and Canada's Yukon Territory. Eagle is home to roughly 86 people, and the city has a total area of 1 square mile (2.6 square kilometers), according to the 2010 United States Census. [Related Images: Amazing Rainbows!] Less «
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Little bundle of joy
Credit: Edinburgh Zoo
The Edinburgh Zoo recently celebrated the arrival of a new pygmy hippo calf. The female calf was born on Oct. 27, and has been named Adana by her keepers,…Read More »
which is a West African name meaning "her father's daughter."
Zookeepers at the Edinburgh Zoo said Adana is still a little shy, but has started to venture into the indoor pool. "Growing in confidence every day, Adana has ventured into the water under the watchful eye of mum," Lorna Hughes, team leader for primates and hoofstock at the Edinburgh Zoo, said in a statement. "Even though pygmy hippos are incredible swimmers, it's a little known fact the hippo calves need to be taught how to swim by their mothers."
Pygmy hippos are native to West Africa, but are endangered due to hunting and habitat loss. As part of the European Breeding Programme, 18 pygmy hippos have been born and raised at the Edinburgh Zoo since the 1970s. [Related: World's Cutest Baby Wild Animals] Less «
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Great Blue Heron Snags a Snake Snack
Credit: Gary Davenport/US Department of the Interior.
Of course, the early bird gets the worm, but in the above photo that worm turned out to be a snake.
Photographer Gary Davenport’s stunning close-up photo…Read More »
of a great blue heron and a hapless garter snake took honorable mention in the 2013 Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge photo contest. First place was awarded to a photograph of a pair of camouflaged raccoons. Photographs of coyotes and a stunning array of birds, including others with food on their minds, were also honored in the contest. To see more photos from the contest click here.
Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge was established in Oregon's Willamette Valley in 1965 to protect a habitat for wintering waterfowl. The refuge spans some 5,300 acres of marshes, grasslands and woodlands.
Thousands of ducks, geese and swans winter on the Refuge. The all-star of the refuge is the dusky Canada goose, whose nesting areas in Alaska were harmed by an earthquake in 1964.
Credit: Jefferson Beck and Maria-José Viñas/IceBridge Science Team
Last year, NASA's airborne research program conducted flights over the Arctic to assess the health of the ice in this fast-changing region. The agency's…Read More »
Operation IceBridge campaign is a six-year mission to study the complex dynamics of ice at the Earth's poles, in order to help scientists determine how melting ice sheets might elevate sea levels, and how fast sea ice is likely to retreat in the future.
This image was captured during an IceBridge flight over Greenland on April 25, 2012. A camera aboard NASA's P-3B aircraft snapped the photo of a glacier in eastern Greenland, flowing through a long and narrow valley that was carved by the movement of the ice. A layer of floating ice dotted with chunks of icebergs can be seen where the edge of the glacier meets the sea.
This month, Operation IceBridge researchers will kick off another season of monitoring ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice from the air. For the first time, however, the mission will be based in Antarctica, which will enable scientists to survey parts of the continent not visited on previous IceBridge campaigns. [Related: Stunning Photos of Antarctic Ice] Less «
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Gorgeous Saturn View
NASA has revealed a stunning natural-color panoramic mosaic of Saturn, along with its rings and moons, as they'd look to human eyes. The majestic image,…Read More »
which also shows Earth, Venus and Mars, was snapped by NASA's Cassini spacecraft and unveiled at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 12, 2013.
"In this one magnificent view, Cassini has delivered to us a universe of marvels," Carolyn Porco, Cassini's imaging team lead at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo., said in a NASA statement. "And it did so on a day people all over the world, in unison, smiled in celebration at the sheer joy of being alive on a pale blue dot."
Porco and colleagues processed 141 wide-angle images to create this space-scape, which sweeps 404,880 miles (651,591 kilometers) across Saturn and its inner ring system out to the planet's second-outermost ring (the E ring). According to NASA, the distance between Earth and its moon would fit easily inside the span of Saturn's E ring. Less «
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Welcome to the (concrete) jungle
Credit: Julie Larsen Maher/Wildlife Conservation Society
A pair of adorable snow leopard cubs made their debut at the Central Park Zoo in New York City earlier this month. The still-unnamed male and female cubs…Read More »
were born this summer, and are the first snow leopard cubs ever born at the Central Park Zoo, according to officials at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).
The litter is the result of a successful pairing between a seven-year-old female, Zoe, and a six-year-old male, Askai. Both adult snow leopards are first-time parents, WCS officials said in a statement.
Colorado residents will likely be familiar with this pristine, sunrise view of the famous Maroon Bells, two peaks in the rugged …Read More »
Elk Mountains of west-central Colorado. Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak — collectively known as the Maroon Bells — are located about 12 miles southwest of Aspen, in the White River National Forest.
The two mountains, which are separated by roughly a third of a mile, are composed of Paleozoic Era-mudstone and sandstone that hardened into rock over the course of millions of years. Both Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak have summit elevations over 14,000 feet (4,200 meters), and represent the 27th and 50th highest peaks in Colorado, respectively.
This southwest view of the Maroon Bells, looking across an unbelievably still Maroon Lake, is touted as one of the most photographed spots in Colorado. Researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey captured this scene in January 2010. [Related: One-of-a-Kind Places on Earth] Less «
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Frost Blankets Bison at Yellowstone
Credit: Tim Townsend/US Department of the Interior
A bison in Yellowstone National Park recently awoke with a frosty blanket. What looks miserably cold to people barely registers to a bison, whose heavy…Read More »
fur is perfectly adapted to such wintery conditions.
The bison is the largest land mammal in North America. Bulls (what males are called) are more massive in appearance than cows (females), and more bearded. They can weigh more than half a ton. But don't be fooled by their size; bison are agile and quick and can run up to 30 mph (50 km/h).
Bison were nearly extinct in the 19th century due to hunting, slaughter and bovine diseases from domestic cattle. Today, Yellowstone is the only place in the lower 48 states where a population of wild bison has persisted since prehistoric times, although fewer than 50 native bison remained there in 1902. Today, the Yellowstone Park bison herd is estimated at 3,700 bison.
This breathtaking view of the horizon from Buck Hollow Overlook in Shenandoah National Park is a good reminder that even city dwellers don't have to…Read More »
travel too far to enjoy the spoils of nature. Shenandoah National Park straddles part of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, just 75 miles (120 kilometers) west of Washington, D.C.
The park's scenic Skyline Drive lets visitors explore the 105-mile-long (170-kilometer-long) park, with more than 75 overlooks along the way. The park's 500 miles (800 km) of trails are also a hiker's paradise, and visitors can expect to see some of the most spectacular panoramic views of the Virginia landscape from the various peaks. [Related: Top 10 Most Visited National Parks] Less «
Lucky visitors at the Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland recently caught a glimpse of the zoo's first baby koala. Zookeepers have yet to determine…Read More »
the sex of the little one, but report that the baby koala has grown almost all of its fur and is becoming more active.
Some spectators at the zoo were able to see baby koala emerging from its mother's pouch. "Over the past few weeks, patient visitors have spotted a nose or a pink arm poking out," Lorna Hughes, team leader for koalas, hoofstock and primates at the Edinburgh Zoo, said in a statement. "Now you [are] more likely to see the joey's whole head or if you are very lucky the whole thing!"
The birth of the new baby koala is a first for the United Kingdom. Its mother, two-year-old Alinga, was the first female koala to arrive at the Edinburgh Zoo, according to zookeepers. [Related: 9 Weird Animal Facts] Less «
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Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Raymond Geoffroy
Paratroopers from the Bangladesh Air Force and the U.S. Air Force jump from a C-130 Hercules aircraft in a free-fall exercise over Bangladesh on Nov. 12,…Read More »
Credit: Dendroica Cerulea/US Department of the Interior.
Despite being an iconic staple of Thanksgiving dinner, the wild turkey population in the United States is alive and gobbling. They can be found strutting…Read More »
their stuff at wildlife refuges across the country, like the tom in the above picture was doing at New Jersey’s Edwin B. Forsythe Refuge.
The wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is native to the United States, where the species has struggled in the past due to hunting and loss of habitat. In the early 20th century, the wild turkey population fell to around 20,000. Today, due to successful conservation efforts, the population is around 7 million.
By looking at a turkey, it's hard to tell that they would be tasty. Male turkeys have a distinctive fleshy wattle, called a snood, that hangs from the top of the beak. Males are known as toms or gobblers and are larger and much more colorful than the females, known as hens. A baby turkey is known as a poult.
Legend has it that the turkey got its name from a similar looking variety of bird being imported to Britain from the Eastern Mediterranean, by way of Spain. The British came to associate the tbird with the country Turkey, and the name has stuck ever since.
A dusting of snow covers the jagged rocks at Chiricahua National Monument in Arizona. This so-called "Wonderland of Rocks" is located in the Chiricahua…Read More »
mountain range, which stretches roughly 35 miles (56 kilometers) along southeastern Arizona.
Chiricahua National Monument is known for its columns of rock, which cover the 18-square-mile (47-square-kilometer) site. Geologists believe a volcanic eruption rocked the region more than 25 million years ago, spewing ash that cooled, hardened and eventually eroded into the structures that can be seen today. [Related: The World's Most Famous Rocks] Less «
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Portrait of a bear
Credit: Julie Larsen Maher/WCS
This photogenic Andean bear flashes its best pensive look to the camera. Andean bears are the…Read More »
only bears native to South America, and they inhabit mountainous regions of western Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
Andean bears are also known as spectacled bears, because they often have light fur on their faces that resemble huge glasses. Animal conservation experts estimate there are fewer than 18,000 Andean bears are living in the wild today. Over the past few decades, this species has been affected by deforestation and habitat fragmentation. [Related: Camera Trapped - Elusive Wildlife Caught in Photos] Less «
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Hot date with the sun
Credit: NASA/MSFC/Aaron Kingery
Are you ready for a cosmic Thanksgiving show? The icy Comet ISON will swing around the sun today, in a well-timed Thanksgiving treat for skywatchers.…Read More »
Comet ISON is scheduled to pass closest to the sun Thursday at 1:38 p.m. EST (1838 GMT), coming within 684,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) of the solar surface, according to NASA officials.
Jupiter. The spacecraft's onboard camera captured this haunting photo of Earth as it swung by the planet. Juno's other instruments were tested during the flyby to ensure they work as designed for close planetary encounters.
The Jupiter-bound Juno spacecraft was launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 5, 2011. Juno's rocket was only capable of giving the spacecraft enough energy or speed to reach the asteroid belt, at which point the sun's gravity pulled Juno back toward the inner solar system. The spacecraft's Earth flyby helped increase its speed to put it on course to arrive at Jupiter on July 4, 2016. [Related Quiz: How Well Do You Know Our Solar System?] Less «