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Best Earth Images of the Week - May 18, 2012

An Unwatched Volcano

A new lava flow was spotted on Bagana volcano by a NASA satellite on May 16.

(Image credit: NASA)

Bagana volcano is one of the most active in Papua New Guinea, but it is remote, and so poorly monitored.

Located on the mountainous spine of Bougainville Island, it is both far from any cities or large towns and is hard to reach due to the rough terrain around it. Satellites are the best way for volcanologists to keep an eye on the active peak, which has an elevation of 5,741 feet (1,750 meters).

[Full Story: Satellite Spies New Lava Flow on Active Volcano]

Fire Creates Beauty

russia wildfires, bering sea images, wildfire smoke images, lake Baikal wildfires

(Image credit: NASA.)

As a diaphanous plume of smoke stretched out across the Bering Sea in early May, a passing satellite snapped a picture of the graceful haze.

A lovely image, indeed, yet it's likely the smoke is the result of a fiery inferno burning many miles to the west. In northern Russia, wildfires have been burning for days.

[Full Story: Massive Smoke Plume Spied from Space]

Ancient Discovery

A shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico.

(Image credit: Image courtesy of the NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.)

A newly discovered shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico may have originally gone down 200 years ago. The ship is full of glass bottles, ceramic plates and boxes of muskets.

The shipwreck was discovered 200 miles (321 kilometers) off the Gulf Coast in more than 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) of water by a Gulf of Mexico mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The wooden hull of the ship has nearly disintegrated, but a greenish copper shell that once protected the ship's wood remains behind.

[Full Story: 200-Year-Old Shipwreck Found in Gulf of Mexico]

Chemical Soup, Yum

deep sea vent photos, black smoker images, hydrothermal vent images

(Image credit: (c) 2012 MBARI)

Scientists have uncovered clusters of volcanic vents towering above the seafloor in a region of the deep sea off the coast of Mexico.

The formations are home to a bizarre menagerie of creatures that thrive in the blistering heat and total darkness of these magma-powered hydrothermal vents, which are essentially fissures and cracks in the ocean floor that allow seawater to reach deep, superheated rocks, producing scalding jets of chemical-laden water.

[Full Story: Newly Discovered Seafloor 'Chimneys' Teem With Life]

Farewell, Precious Light

antarctica winter, what winter looks like in antarctica, sunset in antarctica, Concordia research station, when is winter in antarctica, final sunset in antarctica images, earth

(Image credit: ESAA. Kumar.)

During the first week of May, the small crew left behind at an Antarctica research station bid farewell to the sun as it set for the last time for the season, plunging the frigid continent into the permanent midnight of winter.

The next sunrise will come about four months from now, when spring returns to the bottom of the world.

[Full Story: Last Sunset in Antarctica Kicks Off Winter Season]

Our (More Than) Blue Marble

Earth, blue marble, satellite image

(Image credit: NTsOMZ)

Think of it as an amped up version of the iconic "Blue Marble" image. A new photo of Earth from space highlights the striking beauty and intensely rich colors of our home planet.

The photo was taken by a Russian weather satellite, called Elektro-L No.1, which flies in a geostationary orbit more than 22,000 miles (35,700 kilometers) above the Earth's equator.

[Full Story: Breathtaking View of Earth Taken by Russian Satellite]

Earth as Modern Art

Etosha Pan, a dry lakebed in the middle of Namibia's Etosha National Park, was photographed by astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

(Image credit: NASA)

From far away, this tableau may look like something hanging on the walls of a modern art museum, but it's actually a photograph taken by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station of the area around Etosha Pan, a great dry, salt like in Africa.

This photograph captured a rare event where water from recent rains had traveled down the Ekuma and filled a lobe of the lake with light green water (mid-right in the image). Water has also flowed into a small offshoot dry lake, where it appears a brighter green (upper left).

[Full Story: Earth As Art: Algae & A Dry Lakebed]

Turmoil Over the Desert

dust storm images, what a dust storm looks like, middle east weather images, sand storm satellite photo

(Image credit: NASA.)

Last week, a satellite spied turmoil in the skies over the Middle East as a massive dust storm swept across the region. At one point, the colossal storm's reach crossed the boundaries of four countries simultaneously.

In this image, captured May 11, the dust plume covers nearly all of Syria, and extends into Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The dust was thickest in the west, especially over Jordan and northern Saudi Arabia, and thinned toward the east.

[Full Story: Massive Dust Storm Roils Middle East Skies]

Sticking Close to Mom

The newest addition to the Highland Wildlife Park's European Bison herd.

(Image credit: Jon-Paul Orsi)

The herd of European Bison at Scotland's Highland Wildlife Park welcomed a new addition earlier this month: a bison calf was born on May Day (May 1).

These powerful animals are Europe's largest land mammal, with males, called bulls, weighing between a whopping 1,300 to 2,200 pounds (600 to 1,000 kilograms), and standing nearly 6.5 feet (2 meters) high at their shoulders. European bison (Bison bonasus) are considered vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

[Full Story: Baby Bison Welcomed into Scotland Herd]

Live Science Staff
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