Credit: Erin Stromberg, Smithsonian's National Zoo
Three Norway rats — Daisy, Petunia and Violet — are the newest residents at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C. These remarkable …Read More »
rodents, part of the Think Tank Exhibit, will demonstrate their adaptability and intelligence as they explore their habitat, which is set up as a pet playground complete with a specially designed tunnel system that runs overhead.
This double rainbow in the desert may seam surreal, but it’s not a mirage.
Hikers in Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve captured the…Read More »
double rainbow and submitted the image to the U.S. Department of the Interior's "Share the Experience" photo contest, which showcases the best photos of national parks submitted by the general public.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is certainly worth showcasing. It’s one of the most biologically and geologically diverse parks in the United States. The tallest dunes in North America are the centerpiece of the park’s diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, and alpine lakes.
The park is also perfect for hiking, sand sledding, splashing in Medano Creek, wildlife watching, and, if you’re lucky, spotting double rainbows. [Related Gallery: Earth as Art] Less «
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Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Colorado
This cosmic rainbow is actually a multicolored close-up of Saturn's rings. The image, taken on June 30, 2004, was captured by the …Read More »
Cassini's Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph carries out observations in ultraviolet wavelengths. The section of the planet's rings featured in this photo span approximately 6,200 miles (10,000 kilometers).
Pretty shrubs and flowers add accents of color to the stunning landscape of the Pit River Canyon Wilderness Study Area in California. The region comprises…Read More »
17 square miles (44 square kilometers) of pristine land, full of dynamic geology and wildlife. The flats above the canyon have yearlong populations of deer and antelope, according to officials at the United States Bureau of Land Management.
The Pit River also snakes through the Wilderness Study Area for approximately 13 miles (21 kilometers), and segments of the 1848 National Historic Lassen Emigrant Trail, which served as a crucial passageway for gold seekers en route to California, are also located within the region's boundaries. [Related Gallery: One-of-a-Kind Places on Earth] Less «
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Wild Horses Roam Assateague National Seashore
Credit: Zach Egolf/Department of the Interior
Want to live on the edge? Visit a place recreated each day by ocean, wind and waves; a place so wild that horses roam free.
The "wild" horses on Assateague are actually feral animals, meaning they are descendants of domestic animals that have reverted to a wild state. Horses tough enough to survive the scorching heat, mosquitoes, stormy weather and poor quality food found on this remote, windswept barrier island have formed a unique wild horse society.
Local folklore describes the Assateague horses as survivors of a shipwreck off the Virginia coast. While this dramatic tale is popular, there are no records to confirm it. The most plausible explanation is that they are the descendants of horses that were brought to barrier islands like Assateague in the late 17th century by mainland owners to avoid fencing laws and taxation of livestock. [Related: Amazing Horse Photos]
A pair of colliding neutron stars merges and begins to form a black hole in this NASA simulation. A …Read More »
neutron star is the compressed core left behind when a massive star explodes as a supernova. Neutron stars are incredibly dense, and pack about 1.5 times the mass of the sun into a ball just 12 miles (20 kilometers) across.
As the two neutron stars spiral toward each other, intense tides overwhelm and deform them, shattering the lesser star. The more massive star eventually accumulates too much mass to support it against gravity and collapses, giving birth to a new black hole. [Related: The 9 Biggest Unsolved Mysteries in Physics] Less «
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Shooting Stars, Milky Way Above Kellys Slough Wildlife Refuge
Credit: Ian Jamieson/National Park Service
The Milky Way is an awe-inspiring sight on its own. Add in shooting stars and you've got something magical. That was the nighttime scene that one lucky…Read More »
photographer captured at a North Dakota wildlife refuge.
The above photo was part of the Share The Experience photo contest, sponsored by the National Park Service. The contest was designed to showcase the best user-submitted photos from national parks across the country. The winners can be viewed here.
At Kellys Slough National Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota, the action is in the sky, day and night. The roughly 2-square-mile (5 square kilometers) refuge was established in 1936 to help protect migratory birds. The refuge serves as an important migration corridor for waterfowl and shorebirds.
Water levels at Kellys Slough typically retreat during summer, creating mudflats that attract a diversity of shorebirds during the fall migration, which peaks in late July and early August. As many as 22 species of shorebirds have been sighted on the refuge in the month of July, including American avocets, killdeer, Wilson’s phalaropes, willets, marbled godwits, upland and spotted sandpipers.
It’s also not a bad place to catch the Milky Way after sunset.
Thomaz and her colleagues are teaching Simon a variety of skills, including how to clear the dinner table and how to sort objects by color. Based on the results of these tutorials, Thomaz tweaks Simon's algorithms to make the robot a more efficient communicator and learner. [Related: The 6 Strangest Robots Ever Created] Less «
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Credit: U.S. Bureau of Land Management
This stunning Alaskan scene captures the tranquility of the Delta Wild and Scenic River Watershed, which drains north through the …Read More »
The watershed stretches over 234 square miles (606 square kilometers) of land and 160 miles (260 kilometers of streams), and includes 21 different lakes. The region provides habitat for more than 100 species of migrating birds, fish and waterfowl. [Related Gallery: One-of-a-Kind Places on Earth] Less «
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Under A Starry Sky
Credit: U.S. Army photo by Spc. Steven Hitchcock
U.S. Army Rangers perform training exercises at night at Fort Hunter Liggett in California on Jan. 22. In this photo, the Rangers are preparing to lead…Read More »
Animal keepers at the Smithsonian's National Zoo are hand-raising a female sloth bear cub. The baby sloth was born on Dec. 29, 2013, but zoo personnel…Read More »
have been acting as surrogates, providing round-the-clock care for the young cub.
"Carrying the cub around for hours at a time gave us a unique opportunity to bond with her," animal keeper Stacey Tabellario said in a statement. "We quickly became in-tune with her vocalizations, movements and sleep patterns. With past cubs at this stage, we mostly only viewed them via closed-circuit television, so this has been a great chance to learn more about cub development." [Related Gallery: World's Cutest Baby Wild Animals] Less «
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North America’s Tiniest Turtle
Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Meet the bog turtle. It is the smallest turtle in North America, and also one of the rarest.
turtle would fit in the palm of your hand. When fully grown, the bog turtle measures just 4 inches (10 centimeters) and weighs 3.9 ounces (110 grams), on average. This wee reptile has a black- or mahogany-colored shell and bright yellow-orange markings on both sides of the head.
Bog turtles can be found from Vermont in the north, south to Georgia, and west to Ohio. The turtle in the above photo was found in Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Pennsylvania. This refuge was established in part to protect this federally threatened turtle, which is endangered due to habitat loss and poaching. The turtle’s compact size and appearance have made them targets for poachers who illegally sell the animals as pets.
Bog turtles can also be seen in New York City’s Bronx Zoo, which has been successfully breeding the turtles since 1973. [Related Gallery: Tagging Baby Sea Turtles]
Credit: ESA/SMART-1/AMIE camera team; image mosaic: M. Ellouzi/B. Foing
The moon's southern hemisphere is a crater-filled place, as can be seen in this image of our planet's natural satellite. The moon's tilt and rotation…Read More »
axis means that some parts of its polar regions never see sunlight — the bottoms of certain craters, for example, are always in shadow.
This photo is a mosaic of around 40 individual images taken by the European Space Agency's SMART-1 spacecraft. The photos were taken between December 2005 and March 2006.
The craters visible here include (from right to left, starting with the largest round shape visible in the frame) the Amundsen, Faustini, Shoemaker, Shackleton and de Gerlache craters. [Related: Top 10 Amazing Moon Facts] Less «