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Best Earth Images of the Week Jan. 4, 2013

Getting slammed

tropical cyclone, winter storms

(Image credit: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team)

Two NASA satellites caught a bird's-eye view of Tropical Cyclone Dumile as it barreled over the Indian Ocean islands of La Reunion and Mauritius on Thursday (Jan. 3).

Dumile first formed as an area of disturbed weather on Dec. 30, 2012, and became a named storm on Jan. 1. The storm is currently a Category 1 cyclone with maximum winds of 80 mph (129 kph) and some wind gusts reaching up to 95 mph (153 kph).

[Full Story: Tropical Cyclone Spotted Slamming Indian Ocean Islands]

Record snow

snowfall record

(Image credit: NOAA.)

With 67 percent of the contiguous U.S. covered by snow, the first day of 2013 marked the widest coverage of snow the U.S. has seen on Jan. 1 in the past ten years.

The previous record was set in 2010, when the new year saw 61 percent of the U.S. beneath snow. That same season was marked by the blizzard nicknamed 'Snowmageddon,' in the mid-Atlantic, which set a long list of records in cities such as Philadelphia, DC and Baltimore.

[Full Story: January 1 Snow Coverage Sets New Record for US]

Amazing depths

Deep-sea great barrier reef coral

(Image credit: © Catlin Seaview Survey)

Even four times as deep as most scuba divers venture, the Great Barrier Reef blooms. A new exploration by a remote-operated submersible has found the reef's deepest coral yet.

The common coral Acropora is living 410 feet (125 meters) below the ocean's surface, a discovery that expedition leader Pim Bongaerts of the University of Queensland called "mind-blowing." The group had previously seen the coral living in the reef at a depth of about 200 feet (60 m).

[Full Story: Deepest Corals in Great Barrier Reef Discovered]

Welcoming the New Year

giant panda cub, cute baby animals

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

This little panda cub rang in the New Year with a clean bill of health.

At a checkup Tuesday (Jan 1), caretakers determined that Xiao Liwu the latest giant panda born at the San Diego Zoo is healthy and getting stronger. The cub continues to sprout baby teeth and is mouthing, chewing and teething a bit, zoo officials said. At 22 weeks old, the baby bear weighs 16 pounds (7.3 kilograms) and measures just over 30 inches (76 centimeters) from nose to tail.

[Full Story: Baby Panda Rings in 2013]

Making a reappearance

extinct animals, conservation

(Image credit: Tim Laman.)

A critically endangered mammal thought to be extinct in Australia since the last ice age may still exist there, a new study suggests.

That speculation comes from the discovery that at least one long-beaked echidna, an egg-laying mammal thought to exist only in New Guinea, was found in Australia in 1901 and that native Aborigine populations reported seeing the animal more recently. The 1901 specimen, described in the Dec. 28 issue of the journal Zookeys, had been shot and stuffed and was lying in a drawer, long forgotten, in the Natural History Museum in London.

[Full Story: Odd Mammal Thought Long Extinct in Australia May Still Live]

Live Science Staff
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