Image of the Day Archive
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Above: The West Potrillo Mountains Wilderness Study Area makes up 250 square miles (647 square kilometers) within the West Potrillo mountain range in southern New Mexico. The mountains are located roughly 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Las Cruces in the Chihuahuan Desert, and are made of up diverse rock layers and volcanic features.The Wilderness Study Area, managed by the Bureau of Land Management, consists of federal land that remains undeveloped to preserve its natural conditions. [Related: World's Most Famous Rocks]
A spectacular interplay of warm, vibrant colors lights up the sky over Antarctica in this breathtaking photo. Researchers at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine snapped this gorgeous shot on June 29, 2013, while on a three-month expedition to study Antarctic sea ice. [Related: Stunning Photos of Sunrises and Sunsets]
The Great Outdoors
Bao Bao, the giant panda cub at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington, D.C., explored the outdoor portion of her habitat for the first time on April 1. The 7-month-old cub, born Aug. 23, 2013, wandered outdoors with her mother, Mei Xiang, and even tested out her climbing skills on one of the habitat's smaller trees.
Animal keepers said the young panda was a little hesitant at first, and never strayed too far from her mother's side.
"She even took a cue from Mei and sat down in the grass with a piece of bamboo mimicking her mom eating," zoo officials said in a statement. "After about two hours Bao Bao went back inside and slept for a few hours." [Related: Photos of Playful Pandas]
Up, Up and Away!
This striking photo shows the stringy remains of a high-altitude balloon moments after it burst on Aug. 26, 2013. The balloon, which was part of a suborbital photography project hatched by Kostas Tamateas, is pictured high above northern Greece. The iconic Mount Olympus is visible beneath the clouds at the top left, and the Aegean Sea can be seen to the left of the balloon.
Tamateas' project, dubbed SlaRos, uses high-altitude balloons to explore the atmosphere and capture stunning images of Earth. The balloon pictured in this scene reached an altitude of 111,296 feet (33,923 meters) before it burst, according to Tamateas.
A GoPro Hero3 camera was used to capture this unique view, which would have been impossible with a regular point-and-shoot camera, since it only takes a few seconds for the balloon to burst, Tamateas told Live Science. [Related Gallery: One-of-a-Kind Places on Earth]
Growing & Glowing
This map shows photosynthetic activity across North America during the growing season, with the United States Midwest proving to be the most active spot on the continent. The pink glow in the satellite photo represents fluorescence measured from land plants in early July, from 2007 to 2011.
Plants convert light into energy in a process known as photosynthesis. During this process, vegetation emits a difficult-to-detect fluorescent glow that is invisible to the naked eye. The magnitude of the glow indicates the amount of photosynthesis within a given region, NASA officials said in a statement. [Related: Gallery of Glowing Sea Creatures]
Hidden Delights in Oolah Valley
For intrepid hikers willing to explore off the beaten path, Oolah Valley in Gates of the Arctic National Park has many hidden delights in store.
This vast Alaskan landscape is truly wild. The park does not contain any roads or trails. Visitors will discover intact ecosystems where people have lived with the land for thousands of years. Wild rivers meander through glacier-carved valleys, caribou migrate along age-old trails, and endless summer light fades into the aurora-lit night skies of winter. The land remains virtually unchanged except by the forces of nature.
Gates of the Arctic National Park is not for the meek, but those who brave the wilderness here will not be disappointed by the jaw-dropping vistas. According to the park's website, visitors to the park should be proficient in outdoor survival skills. The terrain is challenging and the lack of routes means that, if needed, help will not soon be on the way. Experienced hikers consider six miles (10 kilometers) a good day’s travel in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve. [Related: 10 Least Visited National Parks]
Ice From Above
A view of the Nordenskiold Glacier, which is located along the east coast of Greenland. Researchers with Operation IceBridge captured this picturesque scene during a survey flight on April 5, 2014.
NASA's IceBridge mission is a six-year campaign to study how glaciers, sea ice and ice sheets at both poles change over time. A modified P-3B aircraft is used to monitor conditions across Greenland and Antarctica from above. [Related Images: Greenland's Dramatic Landscape]
This may look like a flower, but it's actually a close-up view of a bacterial colony. Bacillus subtillis, or B. subtilis, is a type of rod-shaped bacteria commonly found in soil. The organism can form a tough, protective structure that enables it to survive in extreme environmental conditions. [Related: Extreme Life on Earth - 8 Bizarre Creatures]
Aww! A female gorilla holds her baby for the first time on March 24, nearly two weeks after an emergency C-section was needed to deliver the newborn. The as-yet-unnamed female baby was born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on March 12.
Animal keepers said the mother, Imani, initially examined the baby gorilla by smelling her, before picking her up and cradling the newborn.
"Initially she was just carrying the baby, she never sat the baby down," Andrew Stallard, an animal care supervisor at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, said in a statement. "About three hours in, she began nursing the baby. After about a five-minute bout, the baby fell asleep, which is exactly what we were looking for, so we were really excited!"
Since the introduction, Imani has become extremely attached to her daughter, constantly holding and carrying around the infant, zookeepers said. This is the first baby for Imani and the 17th gorilla to be born at the Safari Park, according to zoo officials. The habitat is now home to eight gorillas, including the new baby. [Related: Gallery of Monkey Mug Shots]
Share the Road In Yellowstone National Park
Cyclists’ mantra of "share the road" takes on a whole new meaning in Yellowstone National Park.
As the park opens to cyclists this spring, sharing the road is not limited to cars and bikes. The park’s wildlife often wanders onto roadways, making for some unusual encounters. The bison in the above photo appears to be lying down for a spell while two cyclists glide past in amazement.
Bicyclists willing to brave the unpredictable elements of spring in Yellowstone are allowed to travel 49 miles (79 kilometers) of park roads from the West Entrance at West Yellowstone, Mont., to Mammoth Hot Springs. Bicycle access to Old Faithful will begin on April 18, when the first interior park roads open to public motorized vehicles.
But, a bicycle trip into Yellowstone this time of year should not to be taken lightly. The quickly changing weather can be challenging. Snow and ice may still cover sections of roads, which may be lined with tall snowbanks. And, of course, resting wildlife may be just around the bend. [Related: A Scenic Tour of Yellowstone National Park]
Skywatchers across North America and parts of South America were treated to a stunning lunar eclipse early this morning. The celestial show, also known as a blood moon, was the first total lunar eclipse of 2014, and marked the beginning of an eclipse tetrad — four back-to-back total lunar eclipses — that will occur over the next 18 months.
This photo shows the blood red moon at 3:30 a.m. EDT on April 15, 2014. Telescopes at the University of Arizona's Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter captured this incredible view from the Steward Observatory atop Mt. Lemmon, Ariz. [Related: Top 10 Amazing Moon Facts]