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Best Earth Images of the Month - August 2012

Nightly beauty

Hurricane Isaac Night Space Photo

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

A NASA satellite captured a spectacular photo of what is now Hurricane Isaac from space, a nighttime view showing the then-tropical storm's clouds lit up by moonlight as it approached the U.S. Gulf Coast.

NASA's Suomi-NPP weather tracking satellite recorded the amazing nighttime photo of Isaac just after midnight on Tuesday (Aug. 28). The bright city lights of New Orleans, Houston and Tampa, Fla., can be easily identified, but the photo also includes lights from cities all along the Gulf Coast, Florida and the southeast U.S. coast.

[Full Story: NASA Captures Amazing View of Tropical Storm Isaac at Night (Photos)]

Clean bill of cuteness

giant panda cub, cute baby animals, San Diego Zoo

(Image credit: Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.)

A giant panda cub born recently at the San Diego Zoo has received its first veterinary exam, the announced late last week.

The quick, 3-minute exam allowed staff just enough time to determine that the cub is healthy, thriving and weighs 1.5 pounds (0.7 kilograms). Vets were able to listen to the cub's heart and lungs, both of which sounded good, but were not able to determine its sex.

[Full Story: San Diego Zoo Panda Cub Gets First Exam]

4 Storms, 2 Oceans

Four tropical storms and hurricanes in satellite image.

(Image credit: NOAA.)

Four tropical cyclones are swirling across the two oceans that sandwich the United States, and a satellite recently captured a portrait of all four storms.

The image, snapped by the GOES East satellite this morning (Aug. 30), shows massive Tropical Storm Isaac hovering over the Gulf Coast. The storm has weakened as it has moved inland, but the slow-moving storm is still causing devastating flooding.

[Full Story: Crazy Image: 4 Storms, 2 Oceans]

Here comes the sun!

Antarctica, Concordia Research Station

(Image credit: Alexander Kumar.)

Very early on a recent Sunday morning, doctor and medical researcher Alexander Kumar opened a hatch, climbed out on a deserted rooftop, and drank in the first sunlight he'd seen in months. A honey-colored sky lit the vast plateau of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet with a tangerine glow.

It was Aug. 12, and Kumar was perched atop the Concordia Research Station, a joint French-Italian outpost in the middle of East Antarctica, watching the first sunrise to light his desolate corner of the continent in more than three months.

[Full Story: Photo: Dawn Breaks in Antarctica, Ending Months of Darkness]

Exceptional Images

Inside Tropical Storm Isaac.

(Image credit: NOAA Aircraft Operations Center.)

All eyes are on Tropical Storm Isaac as it barrels across the Caribbean toward Florida, where it could make for a soggy Republican National Convention next week. Yet amid all the speculation, a handful of Americans have already gotten up close and personal with the much-discussed storm.

Crews with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have been flying inside Tropical Storm Isaac, gathering data aboard specially outfitted aircraft.

[Full Story: Plane Inside Tropical Storm Isaac Snaps Dazzling View]

What's up, doc?

Ghost shark face

(Image credit: Paul Clerkin.)

A ghost shark. In the place of teeth, the fish have wide bony plates, lending them a goofy mouth shape that resembles that of a bucktoothed rabbit.

[Full Story: Images: Weird Deep-Sea Sharks]

Neither fire, nor rainbows

A "fire rainbow" over South Florida.

(Image credit: Ken Rotberg / WPTV)

So-called "fire rainbows" are neither on fire nor are they rainbows, but they sure are stunning.

They are technically known as iridescent clouds, a relatively rare phenomenon caused by clouds of water droplets of nearly uniform size, according to a release by NASA. These clouds diffract, or bend, light in a similar manner, which separates out light into different wavelengths, or colors.

[Full Story: Amazing Photo: 'Fire Rainbow' Over South Florida]

Powerful squall

Mosaic of satellite images of an Arctic storm

(Image credit: NASA/Goddard/MODIS Rapid Response Team)

An unusually strong storm formed off the coast of Alaska on Aug. 5, then moved over the central Arctic, where a NASA satellite took pictures of it that have been pieced together into a mosaic of the stunning sight.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite took the images that make up the mosaic during various passes over the North Pole on Aug. 6, when the storm was swirling over the middle of the Arctic Ocean.

[Full Story: Unusually Strong Arctic Storm Spied from Above]

Open waterways

Ice melting in the Northwest Passage

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

Sea ice has melted and part of the Arctic's Northwest Passage has opened, images captured by NASA's Terra satellite show.

An image taken on July 17 shows ice filled Parry Channel, part of the Passage, at that point. The second photo, taken two weeks later on Aug. 3, shows that most of the ice has melted away.

[Full Story: Ice Melt in Northwest Passage Spotted by Satellite]

A ghostly glowing

Wildfires in Russia photographed by satellite.

(Image credit: NASA.)

A satellite captured eerie images of wildfires burning through the night in the far reaches of Siberia, a region regularly racked by massive burns during the summer months.

In the black-and-white photograph, the landscape is peppered with glowing lines that resemble the simple shapes of clouds one might see in a child's drawing ? the outlines of burns that officials say cover up to 90 square miles (233 square kilometers) of eastern Siberia, but that actually may be far more widespread.

[Full Story: Photo: Wildfires' Nighttime Glow Spied From Space]

Live Science Staff
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