Above: The West Potrillo Mountains Wilderness Study Area makes up 250 square miles (647 square kilometers) within the West Potrillo mountain range in southern New Mexico. The mountains are located roughly 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Las Cruces in the Chihuahuan Desert, and are made of up diverse rock layers and volcanic features.
The Wilderness Study Area, managed by the Bureau of Land Management, consists of federal land that remains undeveloped to preserve its natural conditions. [Related: World's Most Famous Rocks] Less «
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Credit: Mario Hoppmann, Alfred-Wegener-Institute
A spectacular interplay of warm, vibrant colors lights up the sky over Antarctica in this breathtaking photo. Researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute…Read More »
Bao Bao, the giant panda cub at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C., explored the outdoor portion of her habitat for the first time on April…Read More »
1. The 7-month-old cub, born Aug. 23, 2013, wandered outdoors with her mother, Mei Xiang, and even tested out her climbing skills on one of the habitat's smaller trees.
Animal keepers said the young panda was a little hesitant at first, and never strayed too far from her mother's side.
"She even took a cue from Mei and sat down in the grass with a piece of bamboo mimicking her mom eating," zoo officials said in a statement. "After about two hours Bao Bao went back inside and slept for a few hours." [Related: Photos of Playful Pandas] Less «
This striking photo shows the stringy remains of a high-altitude balloon moments after it burst on Aug. 26, 2013. The balloon, which was part of a…Read More »
suborbital photography project hatched by Kostas Tamateas, is pictured high above northern Greece. The iconic Mount Olympus is visible beneath the clouds at the top left, and the Aegean Sea can be seen to the left of the balloon.
Tamateas' project, dubbed SlaRos, uses high-altitude balloons to explore the atmosphere and capture stunning images of Earth. The balloon pictured in this scene reached an altitude of 111,296 feet (33,923 meters) before it burst, according to Tamateas.
A GoPro Hero3 camera was used to capture this unique view, which would have been impossible with a regular point-and-shoot camera, since it only takes a few seconds for the balloon to burst, Tamateas told Live Science. [Related Gallery: One-of-a-Kind Places on Earth] Less «
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Growing & Glowing
Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
This map shows photosynthetic activity across North America during the growing season, with the United States Midwest proving to be the most active spot…Read More »
on the continent. The pink glow in the satellite photo represents fluorescence measured from land plants in early July, from 2007 to 2011.
Plants convert light into energy in a process known as photosynthesis. During this process, vegetation emits a difficult-to-detect fluorescent glow that is invisible to the naked eye. The magnitude of the glow indicates the amount of photosynthesis within a given region, NASA officials said in a statement. [Related: Gallery of Glowing Sea Creatures] Less «
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Hidden Delights in Oolah Valley
Credit: National Park Service
For intrepid hikers willing to explore off the beaten path, Oolah Valley in Gates of the Arctic National Park has many hidden delights in store.
This…Read More »
vast Alaskan landscape is truly wild. The park does not contain any roads or trails. Visitors will discover intact ecosystems where people have lived with the land for thousands of years. Wild rivers meander through glacier-carved valleys, caribou migrate along age-old trails, and endless summer light fades into the aurora-lit night skies of winter. The land remains virtually unchanged except by the forces of nature.
Gates of the Arctic National Park is not for the meek, but those who brave the wilderness here will not be disappointed by the jaw-dropping vistas. According to the park's website, visitors to the park should be proficient in outdoor survival skills. The terrain is challenging and the lack of routes means that, if needed, help will not soon be on the way. Experienced hikers consider six miles (10 kilometers) a good day’s travel in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. [Related: 10 Least Visited National Parks] Less «
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Ice From Above
Credit: NASA/Operation IceBridge
A view of the Nordenskiold Glacier, which is located along the east coast of Greenland. Researchers with …Read More »
NASA's IceBridge mission is a six-year campaign to study how glaciers, sea ice and ice sheets at both poles change over time. A modified P-3B aircraft is used to monitor conditions across Greenland and Antarctica from above. [Related Images: Greenland's Dramatic Landscape] Less «
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Credit: Hera Vlamakis, Harvard University Medical School
This may look like a flower, but it's actually a close-up view of a bacterial colony. Bacillus subtillis, or B. subtilis, is a type of rod-shaped …Read More »
Aww! A female gorilla holds her baby for the first time on March 24, nearly two weeks after an emergency C-section was needed to deliver the newborn. The…Read More »
as-yet-unnamed female baby was born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on March 12.
Animal keepers said the mother, Imani, initially examined the baby gorilla by smelling her, before picking her up and cradling the newborn.
"Initially she was just carrying the baby, she never sat the baby down," Andrew Stallard, an animal care supervisor at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, said in a statement. "About three hours in, she began nursing the baby. After about a five-minute bout, the baby fell asleep, which is exactly what we were looking for, so we were really excited!"
Since the introduction, Imani has become extremely attached to her daughter, constantly holding and carrying around the infant, zookeepers said. This is the first baby for Imani and the 17th gorilla to be born at the Safari Park, according to zoo officials. The habitat is now home to eight gorillas, including the new baby. [Related: Gallery of Monkey Mug Shots] Less «
this spring, sharing the road is not limited to cars and bikes. The park’s wildlife often wanders onto roadways, making for some unusual encounters. The bison in the above photo appears to be lying down for a spell while two cyclists glide past in amazement.
Bicyclists willing to brave the unpredictable elements of spring in Yellowstone are allowed to travel 49 miles (79 kilometers) of park roads from the West Entrance at West Yellowstone, Mont., to Mammoth Hot Springs. Bicycle access to Old Faithful will begin on April 18, when the first interior park roads open to public motorized vehicles.
But, a bicycle trip into Yellowstone this time of year should not to be taken lightly. The quickly changing weather can be challenging. Snow and ice may still cover sections of roads, which may be lined with tall snowbanks. And, of course, resting wildlife may be just around the bend. [Related: A Scenic Tour of Yellowstone National Park] Less «
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Credit: Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter/University of Arizona
Skywatchers across North America and parts of South America were treated to a stunning lunar eclipse early this morning. The celestial show,…Read More »
also known as a blood moon, was the first total lunar eclipse of 2014, and marked the beginning of an eclipse tetrad — four back-to-back total lunar eclipses — that will occur over the next 18 months.
This photo shows the blood red moon at 3:30 a.m. EDT on April 15, 2014. Telescopes at the University of Arizona's Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter captured this incredible view from the Steward Observatory atop Mt. Lemmon, Ariz. [Related: Top 10 Amazing Moon Facts] Less «
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Credit: Jennifer Chow
Jellyfish appear to glide through the water in an exhibit at Ripley's Aquarium of Canada in Toronto, Ontario. Jellyfish can be found…Read More »
in every ocean, and are characterized by their umbrella-shaped bell and delicate trailing tentacles.
Still waters reflect the pristine landscape of the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area in Idaho.
The National Conservation…Read More »
Area, managed by the United States Bureau of Land Management, is located 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of Boise, Idaho, and has one of the world's densest populations of nesting birds of prey. A variety of falcons, eagles, hawks and owls flourish in the region.
In addition to outstanding bird and wildlife viewing, visitors can sightsee, horseback ride, hike, hunt, mountain bike, picnic and camp, according to officials at the Bureau of Land Management. [Related: One-of-a-Kind Places on Earth] Less «
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Credit: Connor Mallon, Smithsonian's National Zoo
Animal caretakers are hand-raising this sloth bear cub at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C. The as-yet-unnamed female was…Read More »
one of three cubs born at the zoo on Dec. 29, 2013.
Tragically, the mother, Khali, ingested the first cub about 20 minutes after she gave birth. It is not uncommon for carnivores, including sloth bears, to ingest stillborn — or even live — cubs if they or the mother is thought to be compromised, according to officials at the National Zoo. Seven days later, Khali, who zookeepers describe as an experienced mom, ingested a second cub and spent several hours away from her remaining cub on Jan. 6, which is not normal behavior for a sloth bear with a newborn cub, animal caretakers said.
"Our team is always prepared to intervene and hand-rear a cub if it appears that a cub is not thriving," Tony Barthel, a curator at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, said in a statement. "We already had developed a plan for hand-rearing before Khali gave birth, and our ability to act quickly was critical."
At the edge of the Kenai Peninsula lies a land where the ice age lingers. In this Alaskan wilderness, nearly 40 glaciers flow from…Read More »
the Harding Icefield, Kenai Fjords' crowning feature.
In Kenai Fjords National Park, wildlife thrives in the icy waters and lush forests around this vast expanse of ice, a remnant of the last ice age. Lucky visitors on tour boats in Kenai Fjords might glimpse the Dall's porpoise, which may be the fastest small cetacean on the planet — clocked at speeds of 35 mph (56 kph).
Native Alutiiq relied on the park’s resources to nurture a life entwined with the sea. Adventurous visitors today can visit popular glaciers, such as Exit Glacier, by skis, dogsled, snowshoes or snowmobiles.
Nearly 50 years ago, Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders captured the famous "Earthrise" image as their spacecraft…Read More »
orbited the moon. The iconic black-and-white photo of the Earth rising into view over the moon's limb was humanity's first view of our "pale blue dot" from another planetary body.
To determine where the Earthrise image was taken, NASA scientists matched the original photograph, taken on Dec. 24, 1968, to a high resolution model of the lunar terrain from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. This enabled them to recreate the stunning Earthrise view.
In the above image, the surface of the moon is recreated from observations from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter; the cloud patterns on Earth are based on the Environmental Science Services Administration 7 satellite, as it saw the planet on Dec. 24, 1968; and the land surface is based on observations from NASA's Terra satellite. [Related: 50 Interesting Facts About The Earth] Less «
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Credit: Adam Burrows and Jason Nordhaus, Department of Astronomical Sciences, Princeton University
This colorful glob is actually a 3D simulation of a massive, dying star. The enormous stellar explosion, known as a …Read More »
supernova, has the potential energy of 25 hundred trillion trillion nuclear weapons, according to researchers at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J.
Scientists created a series of step-by-step 3D simulations to mimic the different stages of the supernova explosion. These images are based on the idea that the collapsing star is not spherical, but distinctly asymmetrical, and is also affected by instabilities in the volatile environment surrounding its core. [Related: 101 Astronomy Images That Will Blow Your Mind] Less «
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Credit: Edinburgh Zoo
A new meerkat enclosure was recently unveiled at the Edinburgh Zoo, enabling visitors to come face-to-face with the adorable critters.
The exhibit's…Read More »
grand opening featured an appearance by writer Alexander McCall Smith, who wrote the script to "Meerkats: The Movie," a 2008 British feature-length film about meerkats in the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa.
"Meerkats are extremely charismatic and inquisitive animals, making them extremely popular with our visitors," Chris West, chief executive officer for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, which owns and operates the Edinburgh Zoo, said in a statement. "They will even hold eye contact, which makes it hard not to love them." [Related: 7 Ways Animals Are Like Humans] Less «
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Far and Away
Credit: U.S. Bureau of Land Management
This serene vista is a snapshot of the Eagletail Mountains Wilderness, which is located about 65 miles (105 kilometers) west of Phoenix, Ariz. The Eagletail…Read More »
Mountains border the wilderness to the north, and Cemetary Ridge forms its southern perimeter. A large desert plain extends between the two ridgelines.
The stunning expanse stretches 153 square miles (396 square kilometers) and is a popular destination for horseback riding and backpacking trips. Rock climbers and day hikers can also enjoy the natural arches, high spires, monoliths and jagged sawtooth ridges of the Eagletail Mountains Wilderness. [Related: One-of-a-Kind Places on Earth] Less «
Yosemite is known for its spectacular vistas, but this…Read More »
image looks like something from a fairy tale. The rainbow arcs from the Yosemite Valley to the top of the famed Half Dome granite formation, which rises 4,737 feet (1,444 meters) above the valley floor.
Yosemite is not just a great valley, but a shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra. First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles (3,100 square kilometers), you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and rainbows — even at night.
When a full moon rises during spring and early summer, lunar rainbows, also known as moonbows, can be seen on many Yosemite waterfalls. So day or night, have your camera ready to catch a rainbow in Yosemite. [Related: Gallery of Mysterious Night Lights]
The 2014 NPI and WWF-Canon expedition is designed to study how melting sea ice is impacting polar bear hunting and denning habits. The 10-day excursion to tag polar bears with satellite tracking collars ended on April 21. The researchers will now monitor the data beamed back from the collars to see how polar bears are coping with shrinking sea ice. [Related Gallery: Polar Bears Swimming in the Arctic Ocean] Less «
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Follow the Rainbow
Credit: Qiaoqiang Gan, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
Researchers at the University of Buffalo developed an advanced, light-absorbing microchip made up of alternating, ultra-thin layers of metal…Read More »
and semiconductors or insulators. The structure catches and absorbs each frequency of light at slightly different places in a vertical direction, creating a "rainbow" of wavelengths.
This type of research on photonics could lead to materials that can more efficiently absorb light, which could drive technological breakthroughs in solar energy, stealth technology and other industries, according to Qiaoqiang Gan, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Buffalo. [Related: 5 Crazy Technologies That Are Revolutionizing Biotech] Less «