Though the above image may resemble a painting straight out of an art gallery in Venice Beach, California, it is in fact a satellite image of the sands and seaweed in the Bahamas. Tides and ocean currents in the Bahamas sculpted the sand and seaweed beds into these multicolored, fluted patterns in much the same way that winds sculpted the vast sand dunes in the Sahara Desert. NASA
This Landsat 7 image of Guinea-Bissau, a small country in West Africa, shows the complex patterns of the country's shallow coastal waters, where silt carried by the Geba and other rivers washes out into the Atlantic Ocean. This is a false-color composite image made using infrared, red and blue wavelengths to bring out details in the silt. NASA
The vivid blues of the Bahamas stand out from space. Long Island and Great Exuma Island, which extends from the west north west into the photo, is on the eastern side of the Great Bahama Bank and form the borders of Exuma Sound. This photograph provides a rare opportunity to observe a natural chemical laboratory at work. Limestone of quite a different sort from that forming the Great Barrier Reef is actually in the process of formation. NASA
The junctions of the Amazon and the Rio Negro Rivers are seen at Manaus, Brazil. The Rio Negro gets its color from the high tannin content in the water. The Amazon is sediment-laden, appearing brown in this simulated natural color image. NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDA C/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team
Wave sets and tidal currents in the Gulf of California are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 13 crewmember on the International Space Station. In this image, sunglint off the Gulf of California gives the water a silver-gray appearance rather than the usual azure blue color. NASA
Marias Islands, Mexico is featured in this image photographed by an Expedition Six crewmember on the International Space Station. The islands are a manifestation of intersecting plate boundaries – the East Pacific Rise spreading center that traces south from the Gulf of California, and the subduction zone that consumes the Cocos plate beneath southern Mexico. NASA
Scattered fires in Australia’s northern Western Australia state and Northern Territories send smoke streaming off in the northwestward-blowing wind. The smoke plumes appear as streaks of gray moving away from the fires, which are marked in red. In the lower center of the image, right on the border between the two states, sits man-made Lake Argyle, the largest freshwater body in the Southern Hemisphere. NASA
Off the east coast of Argentina, the South Atlantic Ocean is blooming with color. This true-color Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image from the Terra satellite on February 10, 2003, shows the waters off southern Argentina swirling with the blues and greens that indicate massive amounts of microscopic marine plants called phytoplankton. NASA
Off the east coast of New Zealand, cold rivers of water that have branched off from the Antarctic Circumpolar Current flow north past the South Island and converge with warmer waters flowing south past the North Island. The surface waters of this meeting place are New Zealand's most biologically productive. NASA
This image of a Patagonian glacier was aqcuired by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on May 2, 2000. Patagonia is a mountainous region spanning the border between Chile and Argentina near the southern tip of South America. Vegetation appears red in the image. This large glacier is riddled with crevasses – deep cracks in the ice. NASA/GSFC/MITI/ERSDA C/JAROS,and US/Japan ASTER Science Team
This image shows two large ocean circulation features, called eddies, at the northernmost edge of the sea ice pack in the Weddell Sea, off Antarctica. The eddy processes in this region play an important role in the circulation of the global ocean and the transportation of heat toward the pole. The large image was the first wide-swath, multi-frequency, multi-polarization radar image ever processed. NASA
Traces of duckweed still form green swirls atop Lake Maracaibo in northern Venezuela. The weed, more formally called Lemna obscura, began to grow on the lake sometime between January and March 2004. With an outlet to the Caribbean Sea, Lake Maracaibo is usually too salty to support duckweed and other similar aquatic plants. The lake’s fresh water sits on top of a dense layer of salty water. NASA
Portions of Oman, The United Arab Emirates, and Iran are seen at the Strait of Hormuz. Sunglint in the Gulf of Oman, to the south of the strait accentuates the complex currents and oil slicks, seen as light toned blue streaks on the surface. Qeshm Island, just off the coast of Iran, can be seen on the edge of the photo. NASA
The Atlantic coast of Western Sahara in Africa was photographed by one of the STS-108 crewmembers using a handheld 70mm camera. Red lines in the photo are sand dunes aligned parallel to the dominant offshore northeasterly winds. NASA
The northeast coast of Hokkaido and Kunashir Island, Japan are seen bordered by drifting sea ice. The sea ice has formed a complex pattern of eddies in response to surface water currents and winds. Photos of this kind aid researchers in describing local ocean current patterns and the effects of wind speed and direction on the drift of surface material, such as ice floes or oil. NASA
Vibrant reds, emerald greens, brilliant whites, and pastel blues adorn this view of the area surrounding the Jakobshavn Glacier on the western coast of Greenland. The brightness of vegetation in the near-infrared contributes to the reddish hues; glacial silt gives rise to the green color of the water; and blue-colored melt ponds are visible in the bright white ice. NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team.
Before his late-night Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis called a group of mostly Christian refugees, telling them, 'You're like Jesus on this night,' forced to flee because there was no place for them.
ByNicole Winfield, Associated Press
Pope Francis celebrated Christmas Eve with a late-night Mass Wednesday in St. Peter's Basilica and a phone call to some Iraqi refugees forced to flee their homes by Muslim militants.