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Best Earth Images of the Week - Nov. 30, 2012

A new look

The aurora as seen as a color composite image from the NORUSCA II camera. Three bands were combined to make the image. Each band was assigned a different color -- red, green, and blue -- to enhance the features of the aurora for analysis.

(Image credit: Optics Express)

It's quite a treat to get a look at the shimmering, mysterious northern (or southern) lights. But you've probably never seen them like this.

Norwegian researchers have built a new camera that's provided a more detailed glimpse of dazzling auroras than ever before, as it is capable of rapidly capturing and analyzing multiple wavelengths, or colors, of light at the same time.

[Full Story: Camera Gives New Look at Earth's Amazing Auroras]

Notable feline

Camera trap photo of an oncilla, a rare cat species

(Image credit: Guido Ayala, Maria Viscarra, and Robert Wallace/WCS)

A rarely seen Bolivian wild cat species was photographed by a camera trap in one of the country's national park, the first time it has been spotted there.

The photo of the cat, called an oncilla, won a category of a camera trap competition run by the magazine BBC Wildlife.

[Full Story: Photo of Rare, Mysterious Cat Wins Competition]

Amazing find

shipwreck, diver

(Image credit: Jacob Sharvit, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Archaeologists have discovered four 19th-century warships, and possibly the remains of an ancient Greek harbor, off the coast of Israel.

The fleet was found at the ancient port of Akko, one of the major ports of the Mediterranean during the Hellenistic period from 300 B.C. to 100 B.C. The new discoveries could point to even more ancient, elusive shipwrecks.

[Full Story: 19th-Century Shipwrecks Discovered Off Israel's Coast]

Peculiar creepy-crawly

This is the new species of springtail, Pygmarrhopalites maestrazgoensis.

(Image credit: Rafael Jordana, Enrique Barquero)

Three bizarre-looking springtails, tiny insectlike creatures, have been discovered in a Spanish cave.

Springtails are amongst the most ancient and widespread animals on the planet. Like insects, they have six legs, but are small, more primitive and lack wings. They usually have a furca, or a tail used to spring away from danger, hence the name "springtails." Many cannot be seen with the naked eye; the largest species is about 0.24 inches long (6 millimeters).

[Full Story: Bizarre Insectlike Creatures Discovered in Spanish Cave]

Stunning lava

Kilauea lava overflows cliff

(Image credit: Paradise Helicopters)

Lava overtopped a seaside cliff in Hawaii this weekend, sending up spectacular steam plumes caught on video and in pictures by a camera crew aboard a helicopter.

The slow-moving stream of molten rock, a sticky form of lava called "pahoehoe," crested the edge around 1 p.m. Hawaiian time on Saturday (Nov. 24), said Ken Hon, a geology professor at the University of Hawaii in Hilo. Hon and his students were accompanying a documentary crew at the site and saw the lava pour over the cliff.

[Full Story: Breathtaking! Watch Fiery Lava Spill into Ocean]

Against all odds

Clean room at the Lake Vida Antarctica research site

(Image credit: Alison Murray, DRI Associate Research Professor)

Beneath the icy surface of a buried Antarctic lake, in super-salty water devoid of light and oxygen that is also cold enough to freeze seawater, researchers have now discovered that a diverse community of bacteria has survived for millennia.

The findings shed light on the extreme limits at which life can live not just on Earth, but possibly alien worlds, scientists added.

[Full Story: Ancient Microbes Found in Buried Antarctic Lake]


Ashfall from the Karymsky volcano

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

Fire and ice merge in a photo of ash rising from an eruption at Russia's Karymsky volcano, captured by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station.

The photo was taken approximately an hour and 35 minutes after the snow-covered volcano erupted on Nov. 9 at 2:15 p.m. EST (22:15 UTC). The plume extends from the volcano's summit to the southeast, with brown ash deposits darkening the snow cover below the plume.

[Full Story: Astronaut Photo Showcases Fire & Ice]

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