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Best Earth Images of the Week Dec. 14, 2012

Mission possible

Puerto Rican crested toad tadpoles

(Image credit: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo)

Thousands of tadpoles are on a journey from Cleveland to Puerto Rico as part of an effort to save their critically endangered species.

The traveling tadpoles are Puerto Rican crested toads, and the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is part of the Species Survival Plan that works to breed the toads and release them back to the wild. The plan is managed by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.

[Full Story: Endangered Tadpoles' Mission: Help Restore Toad Species]

Welcome sight

One of the tiger cubs caught on camera.

(Image credit: The Zoological Society of London)

A camera trap caught video of a mother tiger and her two cubs in a protected Sumatran forest, the first evidence of breeding in this location, conservationists say.

The footage was captured in Sumatra's Sembilang National Park. Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) have documented evidence before of the endangered species in nearby Berbak National Park.

[Full Story: Video Reveals Rare Tiger Cubs in Sumatran Forest ]

Different kind of find

Alarcon dome talus

(Image credit: (c) 2012 MBARI)

Scientists have discovered one of the world's weirdest volcanoes on the seafloor near the tip of Baja, Mexico.

The petite dome about 165 feet tall (50 meters) and 4,000 feet long by 1,640 feet wide (1,200 m by 500 m) lies along the Alarcón Rise, a seafloor-spreading center. Tectonic forces are tearing the Earth's crust apart at the spreading center, creating a long rift where magma oozes toward the surface, cools and forms new ocean crust.

[Full Story: Weird Underwater Volcano Discovered Near Baja]

Chance of a lifetime

National Geographic photographer Mike Theiss taking in the northern lights. The sign denoting the edge of the Arctic Circle can be seen to the left.

(Image credit: Mike Theiss / National Geographic)

National Geographic photographer Mike Theiss has always wanted to see the northern lights. So when an assignment took him to Whitehorse, in Canada's Yukon Territory, he rented a car and drove more than 550 miles (885 kilometers) north to the Arctic Circle.

While it usually takes a major solar storm to send the northern lights dancing over the lower parts of Canada and the northern United States, auroras can sometimes be seen in the Arctic Circle even when not visible elsewhere. And sure enough, they made an appearance for Theiss.

[Full Story: Photographer on Arctic Trek Snags Stunning Northern Lights Photos]


Mount Everest from Space

(Image credit: Malenchenko/Russian Federal Space Agency)

The world's highest mountain doesn't look quite so high from space.

Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko recently snapped a shot of Mount Everest from his perch 230 miles (370 kilometers) above Earth on the International Space Station. The photo shows the peak of Everest nestled among other crags in the Himalayas, with snow lightly dusting the tops.

[Full Story: Earth's Highest Mountain Photographed From Space Station]

Rare photo opp

NOAA's GOES-15 satellite snapped this image of the Earth on 12-12-12.

(Image credit: NASA/NOAA GOES Project/Dennis Chesters)

As you probably know, today is 12/12/12, the last time a date in this particular structure will have all three numbers the same until the year 2112.

On this auspicious date (or perfectly ordinary date, depending on how into numerology you are), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) GOES-15 snapped an image of Earth at 1200 UTC (7:00 a.m. ET).

[Full Story: Earth Has Its Picture Taken on 12/12/12]

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