From prehistoric penguins to deep-space repairmen to lightning storms over the Persian Gulf; click “View Photos” and launch our gallery of jaw-dropping images.
The Cable Man
NASA astronaut John Olivas performs long-awaited repairs on the International Space Station, connecting data and cooling cables and replacing solar panels. NASA has planned 15 more delivery and repair missions between now and 2010, when its shuttles are retired.
Under the Lens
Above Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park, lenticular clouds are a frequent sight. Named for their lens shape, the clouds are found in high altitudes, above mountains and rugged terrain where airflow follows a wave-like path that pulls warm, moist wind upward to its peak and the point of condensation.
Just one day after entering the Persian Gulf, the USS John C. Stennis is treated to an extraordinary lightning storm. Accompanied by a guided-missile cruiser, the nuclear-powered supercarrier made its way through the Gulf toting some three million gallons of fuel for escorting ships and scores of aircraft.
Unearthed in southern Peru, this fossil of the extinct Icadyptes salasi (top) has thrown a wrench into commonly held theories of penguin evolution and expansion. The giant penguin stood five feet tall (the Humboldt penguin at bottom, by comparison, is just over two feet). The find suggests that, rather than evolving solely in polar latitudes and migrating only during a later cooling period, the penguin moved toward equatorial regions during the warm Paleocene and Eocene epochs and thrived.
Afragola is Burning
As Naples’s garbage crisis worsened, fed-up and desperate residents resorted to arson–setting more than 100 fires some nights–overwhelming the fire department and leeching harmful chemicals and toxins into already polluted air. Deemed an “ecological and health disaster” by President Giorgio Napolitano, trash crises are common in Southern Italy but have recently increased and worsened. This summer’s is the worst yet, with 10-foot-high piles of refuse lining the streets for weeks now while old dumps max out and new ones are stalled from construction by a weak local political system and a powerful local mafia.
Thirteen hundred light-years away, a three-million-year-old supernova explosion launches a cluster of new stars. Captured by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, the birth is visible because of infrared imaging that bypasses dense cloud formations to detect heat-radiating stars, galaxies and planetary systems. As the stars emerge from the Orion constellation, they heat surrounding dust particles (seen in the orange-red areas) and eventually become surrounded by cosmic gas and dust (as are the young pink stars near the top).