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The Best Earth Images of the Week - Feb. 24, 2012

Colorful Lizards, Angry Gods and Simple Beauty

A two-stage Terrier-Black Brant rocket arced through aurora about 200 miles above Earth on the Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Coupling in the Alfv

(Image credit: Terry E. Zaperach, NASA)

This week's Earth photos cross the earth from pole to pole. We bring you colorful lizards from hidden places, amazing snapshots of winter's coat and a farewell for a season. Check these out.

Surprisingly Shiny

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(Image credit: Gabor Csorba. )

A new lizard species has been uncovered in Cambodia, a remarkable creature with a long, snakelike body, tiny legs and scales that shimmer with a rainbow-hued iridescence.

The tiny lizard, only 3 inches from snout to tail, typically lives most of its life underground.

[Full Story: Tiny, Shiny Lizard Discovered in Asian Forest]

Simple. Astounding. Beautiful.

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(Image credit: Kenneth G. Libbrecht.)

Feast your eyes on the work of Kenneth Libbrecht who has been capturing the glory of snow on film for more than a decade. His specialized camera is focused on individual snow crystals, revealing the astonishing beauty in a drop of water.

[Full Story: Snow Artist Photographs Flakes Up Close]

The Anger of a Hawaiian God

'Pele's braids' seen in the lava on Hawaii's Kilauea volcano.

(Image credit: Lavaloverbo/YouTube)

Legend has it that Pele, the god of fire in Hawaiian mythology, lives inside Kilauea and when he is angry the volcano roars.

[Full Story and Videos: 'Pele's Braids' Seen in Lava on Hawaiian Volcano]

Confusing Colors

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(Image credit: Germán Chávez.)

Researchers have discovered a new species of lizard in a strange place. The brightly colored, water-loving lizards live in the Andes Mountains in southern Peru an odd place to find them, scientists say, because of the chilly conditions. Studies continue to discover more about the thermoregulation of the new find.

[Full Story: New Colorful Lizard Surprises Scientists in Andes ]

Farewell for Now

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(Image credit: Sven Lidstrom. )

On a sunny day earlier this month, a heavily bundled crowd waved goodbye to a giant plane and their only physical link to the outside world as the last flight left the South Pole before the onset of Antarctic winter. The crew of about 50 researchers and assistants are now cut off for eight months.

[Full Story: Last Plane Leaves South Pole for the Winter]

Rare Snowfall

A snowy scene atop Hawaii's Mauna Loa.

(Image credit: USGS)

Snow may be lacking from most of the United States, but one state had a snowy Presidents Day: Hawaii.

Snow covered the tops of Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, two of the five volcanoes that form Hawaii, as seen in photos from the U.S. Geological Survey.

[Full Story: Where Is It Snowing This Winter? Hawaii]

Northern Lights Study

A two-stage Terrier-Black Brant rocket arced through aurora about 200 miles above Earth on the Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Coupling in the Alfv

(Image credit: Terry E. Zaperach, NASA)

A team of scientists launched a small rocket into an eye-popping northern lights display Saturday (Feb. 18) in an attempt to discover what makes auroras tick.

The two-stage suborbital rocket blasted off from the Poker Flat Research Range just north of Fairbanks, Ala., and reached a height of about 217 miles (349 kilometers) as part of a NASA-funded study into how the northern lights can affect signals from global positioning system (GPS) satellites and other spacecraft.

[Full Story: Rocket Launches Into Dazzling Northern Lights Show]

Rugged. Traditional. Beautiful.

Morocco, rugged beauty

(Image credit: Born to Explore.)

These images explore the rugged beauty of Morocco.

[Images: Morocco's Rugged Beauty]