amazing science images you must see
Beauty in Embryos
. This dreamy illustration of a zebrafish embryo happens to be attached to some cool research. The compilation photo reflects a centuries old observationthat during a certain point in a vertebrate embryos development, the embryo will look just like embryos of other vertebrates. The concept is known as the developmental hourglass. Embryos look alike in the middle of development, but early and late in development, the embryos appearances diverge, jus
Fairy Insect Wings
. A female Closterocerus coffeellae, a wasp collected in Colombia, looks drab against a white background and shines against black. Researchers at Lund Universityin Sweden have discovered that the insect species hymenoptera wasps and diptera flies theyve been studying for decades reflect light off their wings in rainbow like patterns. The effect is a bit like oil on water, but these patterns are permanent, suggesting they may play a role in insect
. Nemopilema nomurai, known as Nomuras jellyfish, can grow up to 6.6 feet (2 meters) in diameter. It is edible, though it hasnt caught on widely. WhenNomuras jellyfish bloomed in 2005, some Japanese coped by selling souvenir cookies flavored with jellyfish powder, according to the New York Times
. This hemispheric view of Venus was created using more than a decade of radar investigations culminating in the 1990 1994 Magellan mission, and is centeredon the planets North Pole. The Magellan spacecraft imaged more than 98 percent of Venus and a mosaic of the Magellan images forms the image base. Gaps in the Magellan coverage were filled with images from the Earth based Arecibo radar in a region centered roughly on 0 degree latitude and longitu
Love in the Time of Giardia
. Is it love or a diarrheal parasite? In this Valentines appropriate image, its the parasite. Caught on scanning electron microscope in the midst of dividinginto two separate organisms, thisGiardia lambllaparasite forms a heart, flagella untwining as the two new protozoa prepare to go their separate ways. When ingested by humans (usually through drinking contaminated water),Giardiaprotozoa cause a diarrheal disease called giardiasis.
Ball of Color
. This photomicrograph shows the ruby tailed wasp called Chrysis ignita, which is the most commonly observed of this species. The abdomens is coloring ruby red and bronze give the wasp its name. The underside of the abdomen is also concave, which allows the wasp to roll itself into a protective ball if threatened. Ruby tailed wasps are parasitoids, meaning they eventually kill their hosts. Chrysis ignita parasitizes mason bees: The females lay
Nicaragua from Above
. As the shuttle and the space station began their post undocking relative separation, Expedition 23 flight engineer Soichi Noguchi photographed the undersideof the shuttle over the south end of Isla de Providencia, about 150 miles off the coast of Nicaragua. Undocking of the two spacecraft occurred on April 17, 2010, ending the shuttles 10 day stay. The visit included three spacewalks and delivery of more than seven tons of equipment and supplies
. The 8.9 magnitude (which may have been upgraded to a 9.0) earthquake that struck Japan triggered tsunamis across the region. Here, results from a computer model run by the Center for Tsunami Research at the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory show the expected wave heights of the tsunami as it travels across the Pacific basin. The largest wave heights are expected near the earthquake epicenter, off the coast of Sendai, Honshu, Japan. The
Aurora go Bragh
. This 2008 image, taken in Antarctica, captures Earths atmosphere in a St. Paddys Day mood. Aurora australis, the southern lights, are caused by solarwind passing through the upper atmosphere. The southern lights are seen less often than aurora borealis, the northern lights, because few people brave Antarcticas dark, freezing winters. In the summer, when research scientists descend on the continent, almost constant daylight overpowers the atmosphe
. The moon over an iceberg in the Weddell sea of Antarctica.
. Ceraunius Tholus and Uranius Tholus, two Martian volcanoes, take on unearthly hues in this elevation model made with images captured by the European SpaceAgencys Mars Express spacecraft. The larger volcano, Ceraunius Tholus, rises 3.4 miles (5.5 kilometers) above its surroundings.
Penguin Pomp Birds of a Feather
. A flock of gentoo penguins at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga puts on a show. At heights of almost 3 feet (1 meter), gentoos are the third largestpenguin species in the world. Gentoos build nests out of round, smooth stones, which are highly prized by females. To curry favor with a potential mate, male gentoos sometimes present gifts of these coveted rocks.
In a Green Flash
. As the sun sinks into the Pacific, its last light seems to glow green. This green flash, caused by light refracting in the atmosphere, is rarely seen. But Nigella Hillgarth, the director of the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, got lucky one night. I often work late and have developed the habit of taking photos of the incredible sunsets over the Pacific from the Aquarium, Hillgarth told LiveScience. One even
You Lookin at Me
. The satanic leaf tailed gecko (Uroplatus phantasticus) is the smallest of 12 species of bizarre looking leaf tailed geckos. The nocturnal creature has extremely cryptic camouflage so it can hide out in forests in Madagascar. This group of geckos is found only in primary, undisturbed forests, so their populations are very sensitive to habitat destruction. Large Uroplatus species have more teeth than any other living terrestrial vertebrate species.
Arctic Melt Ponds Icescape
. Kathryn Hansen/NASA/ICESCAPE
Into the Blue
. Here a close up shot of a loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta) in the Gulf of Mexicos Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, which is about 100 miles (179 kilometers) off the Louisiana coast. Two new studies are showing the turtles are being contaminated with so called persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which include banned substances such as DDT and toxaphenes, once used as pesticides; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), once used as ins
. Its not hard to imagine where these moon jellies got their name. As delicate as they look, jellies are tough: Theyve been around for 600 million years, predating sharks and surviving multiple mass extinctions, including the one that killed the dinosaurs. What makes jellies such survivors? Unlike fish, theyre able to absorb oxygen directly through their bodies, storing it in their tissues so they can hunt in deep waters. Baby jellies can develop
. If you think gestating one baby is tough, try 3,000. The squid Gonatus onyx carries around her brood of 2,000 to 3,000 eggs for up to nine months. The squid moms have their arms full: While carrying their eggs, theyre stuck swimming with their fins and mantle instead of their much more effective arms. So why would G. onyx take such care of its thousands of offspring? According to a 2005 study published in the journal Nature, the squid carry the
Snow White Penguin Chick
. Not all emperor penguins sport black and white tuxedoes. Scripps reseacher Gerald Kooyman spotted this unique all white emperor chick, dubbed Snowflake, during a penguin survey on the ice shelf of the Ross Sea, Antarctica, in December 1997. Its white feathers blended in so well with the icy background that Kooyman said he almost missed the chick emperor penguin chicks are usually covered in a grayish down coat, with dark tail feathers and dark b
Endeavors Final Voyage
. NASAs space shuttle Endeavour blasted into the sky Monday at 8:56 a.m. EDT (1256 GMT) from the Kennedy Space Centers seaside Launch Pad 39Ain Cape Canaveral, Fla., for its final mission. The six person crew, led by Mark Kelly, will deliver spare supplies and an ambitious astrophysics experiment to the International Space Station. The mission is planned to last 16 days.
Ring Around The Sky
. Take a minute toooohandaaah. In this composite photograph, the northern lights, or aurora, reflect off J
Lighting Up the Sky
. This photograph won fifth place in the Against the Lights category of the InternationalEarth and Sky Photo Contest, run by The World at Night (TWAN). Light pollution reflects in winter cloud cover. The source of the apocalyptic glow is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) away the city of Portland, Oregon.
. Icelands Grimsvotn volcano erupts on May 22, 2011.
. The Space Shuttle Endeavour is docked with the International Space Station one last time in this May 28, 2011 photograph. Below, city lights brighten thenight side of Earth. The STS 134 astronauts left the station the next day on May 29, and they are scheduled to land in Florida on Wednesday, June 1.
What Big Paws You Have
. A researcher examines the paws of a sedated polar bear in this 1982 photograph taken in Alaska. Polar bears giant paw pads help them keep traction on ice and snow.
All Wrapped Up and Ready to
. The emerald tree boa, which is found in the Amazon basin, is equipped with highly sensitive heat sensing organs that it uses for 3 D thermal imaging oftheir prey. Its color pattern and the way the tree boa drapes itself over branches are similar to the green tree python from Australia and New Guinea.
. Looks like these chasers have found their storm. Lightning crackles behind a stormchase vehicle in Enid, Okla. In 2009 and 2010, an armada of researchers in fully equipped vehicles (including this one) descended on the Great Plains, following the weather. The project, VORTEX2, has one major goal: Tornado forecasting. Right now, residents in stormy areas usually have only 13 minutes to seek cover from a twister, and 70 percent of alarms are false
Venus by the Sea
. Venus sparkles like a diamond over the Rio de la Plata near Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Rio de la Plata is an estuary of the Parana and Uruguay Rivers.Its so large (125 miles, or 200 kilometers from shore to shore) that some geologists consider the Rio de la Plata to be not a river mouth, but a marginal sea. The lights of Buenos Aires are visible in the far right of this May 28, 2011 photo.
Are We In Outer Space
. The space between cells is a freeway when youre a Staphylococcus bacterium. A tight barrier of cells is supposed to prevent outside invaders like these Staph bugs (red and purple) from entering the body. The fact that we get sick is testimony that those barriers sometimes fail. Now, University of Pennsylvania researchers have found one reason why: Some pathogenic bugs have the key that opens secret passages in this cellular wall.
Need a Vacation
. This may be as relaxing as it gets. Various shades of blue come to life in this view of Pukaki, a glacial lake in New Zealand. The alpine lake, which sitsalongside Lakes Tekapo and Ohau, was carved out long ago by glaciers. Its striking blue color comes from the finely ground rock particles called glacial flour from the glaciers that now feed it.
. This ringtail possum has the camera, so whos going to provide the action? Taken in 1943 somewhere in northern Australia, this photo is part of the Australian War Memorial collection. The possum, someones pet, apparently became interested in a Department of Information movie camera and assumed the directors position. Normally, ringtail possums live a less artistic life in dense, brushy forests. Like the more famous koalas that share their Aussie h
Tiny Feet Take Big Steps for Cancer Cells
. The spread of cancer from one its initial outpost to someplace else in the body, called metastasis, is the most common reason cancer treatments fail. Some cancer cells rely on microscopic feet called invadopodia, which are projections on the cellular membrane that help the cells walk to surrounding tissues. Now researchers are reporting online in the July 26, 2011, issue of the journal Science Signaling that they have identified compounds that in
An Astronauts View of Atlantis Descent
. Blazing a tiny trail across the face of the Earth, the Space Shuttle Atlantis makes its final descent on July 21, 2011. An astronaut snapped this photo from the International Space Station, showing the ionized plasma plume created by Atlantis descent through the atmosphere. The greenish glow hovering over the planet is airglow, which occurs when molecules in the high atmosphere release energy at night that they absorbed from sunlight during the
Galaxies Masquerade as Eyes in the Sky
. What are you going to be for Halloween? These two galaxies have joined forces to masquerade as two spooky eyes floating in space. Galaxies NGC 2207 and IC 2163 met and began a slow gravitational merge about 40 million years ago. This false color image of the galaxies shows their cores in blue green and their spiral arms in bright red. Eventually, the two galaxies will become one.
. Even though the oceans tend to warm slower than the land, researchers report in the Nov. 4 issue of the journal Science that similar movement rates are needed for organisms to stay ahead of climate change on land and in the oceans. After analyzing 50 years of global temperature and climate data, Michael Burrows of the Scottish Marine Institute in Argyll and his colleagues found that the speed and direction of climate change, along with the arriva
. The brilliant Northern Lights fill the sky above a radar dish in Svalbard, Norway, on a crisp December night (temperatures dipped to minus 4 degrees F,or minus 20 degrees C) in 2006 when Cyril Simon Wedlund captured this image. Scientists were in the process of taking measurements using the European Incoherent Scatter Svalbard Radar to learn more about the aurora and the ionosphere. This aurora was very dynamic and one of the most beautiful that
Jellies In LeopardPrint
. These leopard spotted jellies are appropriately decorated, considering theyre terrifying predators if youre a plankton. This species, Mastigias papua is known as the spotted jelly or the lagoon jelly. They live in coastal waters in the South Pacific and grow about 5.5 inches (14 to 16 centimeters) in diameter. But what makes spotted jellies really cool is that they grow their own gardens. The jellies get their greenish brown tinge from algae th
See Summer From the Snow Caves
. Summer can be seen at the end of winters long tunnel at Glacier National Park in Montana. Love to hike? Glacier is your place for summer backcountry adventures. With over 700 miles (1,127 kilometers) of trails, hikers will find a wilderness of forests, alpine meadows, mountains and beautiful lakes. For those not ready to leave winter behind, theres the solitude of snow caves. Caves such as the one shown in the above image often form when meltwat
. Clouds and canyons converge at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona and Utah. This wilderness area boasts striking sandstone cliffs and narrow canyons beloved to hikers.
. Around and around goes Saturns north polar storm as fast as 330 miles per hour (150 meters per second). This striking red photograph of the 1,250 mile wide(2,000 kilometer) storm is a false color image from NASAs Cassini spacecraft taken in November 2012. No one knows how long Saturns north polar storm has been spinning, according to NASA. Saturn periodically sports Great White Spots thousands of kilometers wide. These white cloud storms are som
. A graceful three layered cloud structure develops over the Indian Ocean in this award winning photo snapped in 2011. As part of a projected called DYNAMO,researchers are studying the dynamics of the Madden Julian Oscillation, a travelling atmospheric pattern over the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The pattern creates anomalous phases of tropical rain and then unusual dryness in patterns lasting a month or two. Understanding this pattern helps scienti
. This strange specimen is an ordinary cell, transformed by scientists into a cancer promoting monster. Using gene transfer, researcher from the University of Eastern Finland coaxed this cell into producing large quantities of a carbohydrate compound called hyaluronan. The spiky protuberances that make this cell look like a Koosh ball are actually hyaluronan factories. Hyaluronan is part of the bodys chemical toolbelt for healing, but it can also p
Biomineral Single Crystals
. Biomineral crystals found in a sea urchin tooth. Geologic or synthetic mineral crystals usually have flat faces and sharp edges, whereas biomineral crystals can have strikingly uncommon forms that have evolved to enhance function. The image here was captured using environmental scanning electron microscopy and false colored. Each color highlights a continuous singlecrystal of calcite (CaCO3) made by the sea urchin Arbacia punctulata, at the formi
. Two cuties get cuddly in this 1937 photograph taken on a National Geogrpahic Society Smithsonian Institution expedition to the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).This image is part of the collection of William Mann, director of the National Zoo, and Lucile, his wife and a writer and editor, but the Smithsonian knows little about this strangely cozy primate and tiger cub.
. This visualization shows a coronal mass ejection approaching Venus. Coronal mass ejections are eruptions of solar winds and magnetic fields from the suninto space; they happen every few days to a couple times a day, depending on how active the sun is. Interactions of these CMEs with Earths atmosphere can cause extra strong auroras, or northern (and southern) lights.
Solar Storm May Spark Dazzling Northern Lights Display
. kywatchers at high latitudes can expect spectacular aurora borealis displaysin the skies tonight (Aug. 5) thanks to a strong solar flare that hurleda cloud of plasma toward Earth on Aug. 2. The flare occurred when an intense magnetic event above sunspot 1261 hurled a stream of charged particles thats now headed toward Earth.
Eggshells Hold Hidden Worlds
. This image taken by Hanna Jackowiak shows the microstructures of the lower parts of eggshell wall in a pheasant. The eggshell in birds is composed of a thick layer of mineral column and underlying thin, fibrous membrane. Scanning electron microscopy was used to show the space between these layers. This image was taken during microscopic studies on the spatial structure of the eggshell in the pheasant and was an entry in the 2005 Science & Enginee
. African penguins take a sidewalk stroll. These two foot tall birds are also known as jackass penguins because of their loud, donkey like calls. Theynest in burrows along southern Africas coastal waters, laying two eggs that are cared for by both mom and dad. One major African penguin colony is right near Cape Town, South Africa, at Boulders Beach. There, penguins rub elbows with tourists and swimmers.
Merging Galaxies Form Cosmic Exclamation Point
. VV 340, also known as Arp 302, provides a textbook example of colliding galaxies seen in the early stages of their interaction. The edge on galaxy nearthe top of the image is VV 340 North and the face on galaxy at the bottom of the image is VV 340 South. Millions of years later these two spirals will merge much like the Milky Way and Andromeda will likely do billions of years from now. Data from NASAs Chandra X ray Observatory (purple) are sho
A Great Comet Sets
. Comet McNaught, a comet discovered by British Australian astronomer Robert H. McNaught, sets behind Mount Paranal, Chile in 2007. The comet, nicknamed the Great Comet of 2007 was visible to the naked eye for southern hemisphere viewers. The comet was the brightest seen from Earth for 40 years, and researchers later discovered Comet McNaught to be the largest ever measured.
Water and Brimstone
. Care for a swim? Perhaps not in this sulfur lake, found near the Dallol volcano in the Danakil Depression of Ethiopia. The landscape is not unlike Yellowstone National Parks hot springs, with small geysers and mineral rich pools dotting the landscape. This lake is ringed in yellow due to high concentrations of natural sulfur, known in ancient times as brimstone. If lakes of sulfur arent hellish enough for you, consider this: The nearby mining se
Plankton Bloom Tie Dyes the Sea
. Like tie dye on the water, blue and green swirls decorate the Barents Sea off the coast of Norway in this Aug. 14 image. The colors are created by a massivephytoplankton bloom. This image, captured by NASAs Aqua satellite, reveals a distinctive milky blue color often associated with plankton called coccolithophores.
Hurricane Irene Slices Through Islands
. Flood waters from Hurricane Irene breach North Carolinas Hatteras Island, cutting through Highway 12, the road connecting the island to the mainland.This photo, taken Aug. 28 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is part of a larger project to assess the damage Irene caused to the East Coast. The hurricane came ashore near Cape Lookout on North Carolinas Outer Banks on Aug. 27 before heading toward New Jersey and New York
. Looking for a piece of abstract art for the living room? Look no further than Mother Nature.Italian geoscientist Bernardo Cesaretakes photomicrographs of regular rocks, transforming them with the use of special filters into stained glass hues. Cesare, who is now selling his photographs in the U.S.via his website, thinks of himself as less an artist than a reporter, painstakingly coaxing brilliant colors out of tiny slices of stone.
Eye Popping Undersea Color
. A gelatinous nudibranch (Janolus barbarensis) adds a splash of color to the ocean in Morro Bay, Calif. Nudibranches are ocean dwelling mollusks without shells; theyre often called sea slugs, but some sea slugs are in a family of their own, unrelated to the 3,000 or so species of nudibranch. Marine scientists believe that the colors on nudibranches keep predators at bay, much like a neon sign reading, Tastes terrible, do not eat! And indeed, some
Swirl of Stunning Stars
. This image of a pair of interacting galaxies called Arp 273 was taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and released in April 2011.
Bold Fashion From a Colorful Critter
. This harlequin shrimp isnt clowning around (yeah, yeah, cue groans).Hymenocera eleganshere is found in the waters off of Indonesia. Popular among aquariumenthusiasts for their bright colors, harlequin shrimp are nonetheless tough to care for in a tank. One reason is their diet: They eat only starfish (and sometimes sea urchins), and they reportedly prefer to eat them alive. Since the prey is so much larger than the predator, it sometimes takes th
Feeding the Beast
. Streams of cold gas feed a forming galaxy in this artists visualization. The arms of gas bring in the raw material to feed star formation in the new galaxy. No one has ever seen this process in real life; rather, this version of galaxy formation is a theoretical scenario based on numerical simulations.
The Microbes That Cleaned the Gulf
. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill left a sheen of petroleum on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. Now, a new study finds that oil eating microbes chowed down on this unlikely feast but the type of microbes depended strongly on water temperature. Cold loving, or psychrophilic, bacteria thrived in the deep oil plume rising from the ocean floor, feeding preferentially on natural gas, researchers reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Ac
Full Moon Casts Icy Glow
. The Oct. 11 full moon shines over Greenlands ice sheet in this photograph taken from Summit Station. Ice crystals in the air reflect the moons light,creating a halo effect. But it wasnt a night to stay out sky watching long: Temperatures were 22 degrees Fahrenheit ( 30 degrees Celsius) when photographer Ed Stockard snapped this image.
The Folds of the Earth
. An exposed wall of ice rich permafrost dwarfs a researcher along the coast of Herschel Island in the Yukon Territory of Canada. Permafrost is soil, oftenwater rich, that is below freezing. The sea rapidly erodes this permafrost in coastal zones, a geological process that could have major implications for humans living in such chilly coastal areas. Currently, Arctic coastlines are eroding by about 3 to 6 feet (1 to 2 meters) each year, according t
Who s Haunting You
. Boo! Do you believe in spooks? This 1920s era couple seem downright relaxed for two people being haunted by an ominous specter, but then, the ghost only revealed herself on film
. Where in the world is all the water vapor? It may be hard to tell at first glance, but this wall of globes represents a simulation of monthly averageddistribution of total column water vapor on the planet. Such simulations are important, because understanding the distribution of water vapor on Earth is critical for understanding our planets climate.
Catch a Falling Star
. Go ahead, wish upon a shooting star you have plenty to choose from. This is a composite image of meteors from 2009 to 2011, including the Orionid,Perseid and Geminid showers. This past weekend (Oct 21 and 22) the2012 Orionidswowed stargazers.
. See that teeny tiny white dot up in the left hand corner of this image? Insignificant space dust, right? Not quite. That little speck is Tethys, one of Saturns moons. The moon is 660 miles across (1,602 km), but with Saturn in the foreground, it doesnt show its size. The Cassini spacecraft took this image in August 2012 from about 18 degrees below the plane of Saturns rings.
Ring of Fire
. Colorful bacterial mats create the rainbow rings that circle Grand Prismatic Spring, a Yellowstone National Park landmark and the largest hot spring inthe United States. This aerial view shows the full extent of the spring, which is about 300 feet (90 meters) wide at its widest point. The water gets about 160 feet (50 m) deep, but you dont want to take a dip, regardless at its center, the pool reaches temperatures of 160 degrees Fahrenheit (70 d
. Headlights spotlight a new arrival from orbit far out in rural Kazakhstan. No, this isnt a government UFO cover up; its the return of Expedition 33 from the International Space Station. Carrying Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoside, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and American astronaut Sunita Williams, the Soyuz TMA 05M spacecraft landed in remote Kazakhstan on Nov. 19.
Seriously Spooky Squid
. Talk about a sea monster. This 1889 illustration of a vampire squid paints these mysterious creatures in a creepy light fitting, given that the scientific name for vampire squid, Vampyrotheuthis infernalis translates roughly to vampire squid from hell. In fact, vampire squid are the only known cephalopods that dont hunt for their prey (so much for their namesake). Instead, theyre the seas garbage disposals, eating marine detritus that floats dow
. Its getting breezy on the East Coast as Hurricane Sandy approaches the mid Atlantic states. The ghostly lines on this map represent wind speeds, withwhiter, thicker lines representing faster winds. As of about 11 a.m. EDT on Oct. 29, 2012, winds were blowing at speeds between 15 and 30 miles per hour (24 and 48 kilometers per hour). Forecasts call for Sandy to blow in to New York City with winds ranging from 40 to 55 mph (64 to 80 kph) with gusts
Crazy Cats Eye
. NASAs Chandra X Ray Observatory captures the stunning Cats Eye Nebula in vivid pink. The nebula, also known as NGC 6543, is in the constellation Draco and was first discovered in 1786. This image is part of a recent study published August 2012 in The Astronomical Journal examining 21 planetary nebulas within 5000 light years of our own planet. Despite their name, planetary nebulas are not planets, but dying stars that have used up their hydrogen
. A scientist explores the otherworldly Arctic in this 2005 photograph taken on an expedition to the oceans deep Canada Basin. The U.S. Coast Guard CutterHEALY stands in the background. The ship accommodates up to 50 scientists at a time and can cut through 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) of ice, opening up avenues for ocean exploration
Auroras Over America
. Undulating high over Quebec and Ontario, the northern lights outshine city lights on Oct. 8, 2012. The strong aurora borealis resulted from a sun stormthree days earlier that sent solar particles on a collision course with Earths atmosphere. The interaction excites oxygen and nitrogen molecules 60 to 250 miles (100 to 400 kilometers) up, releasing photons, or light particles.
. A stunning display of the northern lights brightens the sky in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada on Oct. 1, 2012. This light show is the result of a coronal mass ejection, or a burst of solar particles and wind, three days before. When these solar particles interact with Earths upper atmosphere, they cause colorful, shimmering aurora like this green and purple specimen.
Awesome Weather Phenomenon
. Unidentified flying object or weather event? Its the latter, of course this flat as a pancake cloud over Africa is whats called a cumulonimbuscloud, which means column rain in Latin. These clouds can form on their own or along cold fronts, bringing with them heavy rain, wind, lightning and even tornadoes.
Jewel of the Caribbean
. Jewel like shallow waters hug the shores of Cuba in this image taken from the Envisat satellite in 2011. In order to get a cloudless view of the Caribbeanisland, researchers stitched together three snapshots. The Florida Keys are visible as a bright band northwest of Cuba, while the southeast tip of the island is darkened by the Sierra Maestra mountain range.
On Top of the World
. Arctic sea ice caps the North Pole in this Aqua satellite image captured Sept. 3, 2010. Ice like this is in short supply lately, having just reached
The Tiny Face of a Killer
. The visage of a tiny velvet ant peers up in this scanning electron microscope image magnified 23 times. This tiny creature, genusDasymutillais not actuallyan ant at all, but a wasp. She (this is a female) boasts a nasty sting, especially if youre another wasp or bee. In order to reproduce, velvet ants lay their eggs inside the larvae of wasps and bees. When the eggs hatch, they feed on the still living but paralyzed larvae that house them.
What in the World
. Any guesses as to what this unusual tendril might be? Squid arm? Elephant trunk? Scroll down for the answer
The Perfect View
. The story behind this sparkly blue glacial lagoon called the Jokulsarlon in Iceland is one of ice and climate. When the first settlers arrived in Iceland, the edge of an outlet glacier called Breidamerkurjokull and part of the great Vatnajokull glacier, was located about 12 miles (20 kilometers) farther north than it is today, according to J
The Pink Lady
. Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) plays a key role in the food webs of the South Ocean. In fact, throughout their evolutionary history, these tiny crustaceans have developed many biological rhythms that are closely connected to large seasonal changes in their environment. But how will marine organisms like the krill react to environmental changes at the poles, such as receding sea ice and ocean warming, given that their vital processes, such as
. Set against a sherbet sky, these rock formations off the coast of Spain show a prehistoric kind of beauty. Photographer Jose Julian Esteban won a prizefor this shot at the 2011 European Geosciences Union photo contest. The rocks are folded cretaceous calcarenite near Bilbao, Spain.
The Parasite and the Protector
. An immune cell tangles with a protozoan parasite in a life or death struggle. The ribbon like parasite isTrypanosoma brucei, a microscopic menace thatcauses African sleeping sickness. The parasite is transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly. New research, published June 14, 2012 online by the journal Science, finds that once in the body, this parasite is well adapted to give the immune system the slip. By releasing certain messenger chemicals, t
. The alienlike beauty of this image, taken by a camera aboard NASAs Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), may seem to portend some Martian artists. Alas,the ridges and ripples are evidence of Martian sand dunes. The brighter features represent two classes of so called aeolian bedforms within Proctor Crater. The ripples, research has shown, are composed of fine sand or fine sand coated with coarser sand and granules. And the larger, darker bedforms ar
Our Colorful Planet
. Earth takes on beautiful colors in this image created by a Russian weather satellite. The satellite, Elektro L No.1, scans both visible and infrared wavelengthsof light. Combining these images yields the colorful view of Earth seen above.
. The Supermoon appears to be sinking into the atmosphere. The image was taken by Andr Kuipers from aboard the ISS on May 5, 2012.
Galactic Easter Egg
. With colors that would make Faberge green with envy, the Cartwheel galaxy stands out against a backdrop of other brightly colored galactic bodies. The Easter egg appearance of this galaxy is due to false colors representing various wavelengths of light ultraviolet in blue, B band visible light in green, infrared in red and x ray radiation in purple. The rings of this galaxy are the aftermath of a collision between the Cartwheel galaxy and anoth
The Awesome Arctic
. An iceberg moves slowly through a fjord in Tassilaq, East Greenland, its underwater bulk visible in brilliant blue. This photograph was taken from a helicopter in September, 2011.
. Ocean or Van Gogh painting? This NASA image titled Perpetual Ocean shows ocean surface currents around the world during the period from June 2005 throughDecmeber 2007. To see these currents in motion,
Blowing Smoke Rings at the Edge of Space
. These strange circular clouds are no natural phenomenon. They were created by NASA in order to study the circulation in the atmosphere over North America. On March 27, NASA successfully launched five suborbital rockets in order to study the upper level jet stream. Each rocket, launched one after another 80 seconds apart, released a chemical tracer to create these milky clouds at the very edge of space, 65 miles (105 km) up.
. Welcome to my ice crevasse. Two divers meet an unexpected surprise in the frigid waters of Palmer Land on the Antarctica Peninsula during a 1962 1963 expedition. Their encounter was with a Weddell Seal (Leptonychotes weddellii), a deep diver that favors a coastal ice habitat. These bruisers can tip the scales at up to 1,360 pounds (600 kilograms) and they live farther south than any other mammal on Earth. This vintage photograph was taken in 1962
. Water and land seem swapped in this satellite photo taken over the South Pacific. The steaming volcanic island of Tinakula appears in dark, almost liquid, green. The surrounding water takes on a milky, solid look because of the reflection of sunlight on the ocean. Satellite observations of Tinakula suggest that the island erupts occasionally, but remote as it is, eyewitnesses are rare, according to NASAs Earth Observatory. Here, a plume of gas a
. Like something out of a fantasy land, the Icelandic waterfall Gullfoss pours nearly 5,000 cubic feet (140 cubic meters) of water over its edge each second. Gullfoss (which means Golden Falls in English) is on the Hvita river in southwest Iceland. The falls were once considered for hydroelectric power, but fortunately for this stunning vista, they were sold to the Icelandic government instead and preserved. Now the spot is one of the most popular
. A roll cloud, associated with thunderstorm downdrafts and strange sea winds, tumbles across the sky off the coast of Brazil. Roll clouds are rare and harmless, though ominous looking.
. Everyones heard of sunshine and moonshine (and not the stuff that comes in glass jars). But the Earth shines too. Sunlight bounces off our planet, hits the moon and bounces back, visible as the silvery light seen here reflecting off Earths natural satellite above the European Southern Obervatorys (ESO) Paranal Observatory in Chile. New research published Feb. 29 in the journal Nature suggests that this Earthshine may be useful for more than beau
Our Tangled Magnetic Shield
. Spaghetti dinner gone sour? Some sort of fancy new knitting technique? No, this is a computer simulation of the complex and crazy magnetic fields that make up Earths magnetosphere. The magnetosphere is the result of the interaction of charged particles from the sun and the magnetic field that surrounds the planet. When solar storms send particles flowing toward Earth, the result can be stunning space weather the kind that creates beautiful aur
. This spectacular, multi hued formation of so called lenticular clouds was observed over Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, Colo. Professional photographer Richard H. Hahn snapped the magnificent view soon after sunset at 5:02 p.m. MST (7:02 EST) on Jan. 5. Lenticular clouds form when waves of moist, fast moving air are pushed upward by winds and ascend over high mountains. At the mountains higher altitude, the moist airs water dropl
. A brilliant blue figure eight decorates the ocean as if someone painted it there. But this isnt mans work the phenomenon is caused by a phytoplankton bloom coloring the water in the South Atlantic about 379 miles (600 km) east of the Falkland Islands. The Earth observing satellite Envisat captured this image of the algal bloom on Dec. 2, 2011. Satellites with ocean color sensors can even tell the species of the plankton from space, by analyzing
Oooh Aaah Aurora
. The night sky puts on a colorful show like no other in this compressed wide angle view of the aurora over Norway in late 2011. The gyrating colors arecaused by charged particles hitting atoms in the high atmosphere.
Colorful and Cerebral
. This tangled forest is a false color representation of the cells that make you who you are: neurons. Brain cells communicate in complex networks, but researchers are getting better and better and unraveling their signals. Reporting Dec. 12 in the journal Neuron, Norwegian and German scientists say theyve used a supercomputer to better understand how the babble of thousands of nerve cells talking to one another translates when recorded onto an el
. A blue dragonfly perches on a flower. The insect seems to be making googly eyes, but of course those black dots arent really pupils; dragonflies havecompound eyes with hundreds of tiny lenses.