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June 21, 2012 | By Diane K. Fisher
Besides our one beautiful star, the sun, we have eight planets, several dwarf planets, dozens of moons, millions of asteroids, a trillion comets and — most important of all — us! We call it: our solar system. How did our solar system even get here? What were the ingredients that made the sun and all the planets and other objects? How can we find out? What if we could watch a video and see it all unfold again? When the video starts, we see a huge, wispy cloud of gas and dust swirling slowly throughout a huge region of space.
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SCIENCE
April 17, 2014 | By Amina Khan
Sifting through observations from more than 100,000 distant stars, astronomers say they have discovered the first definitive Earth-sized planet that orbits in a habitable zone where water could exist in liquid form - a necessary condition for life as we know it. Scientists don't know whether the planet has water or a protective atmosphere. They don't even know its mass. But they said the landmark discovery gives astronomers great hope that a bumper crop of Earth-like planets is waiting to be found much closer to home, including around temperamental stars that until recently were considered inhospitable to life.
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ENTERTAINMENT
September 12, 2013 | By David Ng
Voyager 1, the NASA space probe that left Earth in 1977, has officially exited the solar system and is now the first manmade object to enter interstellar space. And it took with it classical music. NASA on Thursday made the big announcement that the probe, which is 12 billion miles from the sun, probably left the solar system a year ago. Among the objects Voyager 1 is carrying as it travels toward deep space is the so-called "Golden Record" -- a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk that contains greetings, images, sounds and recordings of music intended to be heard by extraterrestrial intelligence.  RELATED: Voyager 1 has left the solar system The music selection on Voyager skews noticeably classical, with the inclusion of seven classical selections out of a total of 27 tracks.
SCIENCE
April 15, 2014 | By Karen Kaplan
It's been five months since Comet ISON disintegrated after its close encounter with the sun, but skywatchers on Earth are still savoring its captivating journey. The comet's million-year journey from the Oort cloud to the center of the solar system ended on Thanksgiving Day 2013, when it came within 730,000 miles of the sun. The flyby pulled apart and melted the ice holding ISON's nucleus together, transforming the sturdy comet into a collection of pebbles and dust . "Tragically, on Nov. 28, 2013, ISON's tenacious ambition outweighed its ability, and our shining green candle in the solar wind began to burn out," astronomer Karl Battams wrote in a mock obituary for NASA.
BUSINESS
September 7, 2011 | By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times
Want to explore the solar system and follow NASA space missions in real time? NASA is giving the public the chance to do just that through a new Internet-based tool called Eyes on the Solar System. The space agency said the tool combines video game technology and NASA data to create an environment for users to ride along with agency spacecraft as they explore the cosmos. "You are now free to move about the solar system," Blaine Baggett, a manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, said in a statement.
SCIENCE
June 15, 2012 | By Thomas H. Maugh II
Thirty-five years after NASA's Voyager 1 was launched, the spacecraft is on the edge of the solar system and verging on entering interstellar space, the agency said Friday. The craft is now 11.1 billion miles from Earth, a distance that means radio signals from the craft require 16 hours and 38 minutes to reach the antennas of NASA's Deep Space Network. "It is very exciting. We are approaching the solar system's frontier," said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at Caltech. Three instruments onboard are providing key data about the craft's passage into interstellar space.
SCIENCE
September 6, 2013 | By Monte Morin
When it comes to studying the region of interstellar space just beyond our solar system, nothing seems to work quite the way scientists imagined. Take Voyager 1 for example. The spacecraft has confounded and delighted researchers for several years with unexpected observations of magnetic field and cosmic ray activity at the gateway to interstellar space. Indeed, scientists disagree over whether Voyager 1 is still in the solar system. Now, new research published in the journal Science suggests that the interstellar winds that gust through our heliosphere -- the vast bubble of magnetism that surrounds the sun and planets -- has changed direction over the last 40 years.
SCIENCE
March 26, 2014 | By Karen Kaplan
It began with a cryptic announcement of a press conference in Brazil where “an international team of astronomers” would announce “a surprise discovery in the outer solar system.” If that sounds intriguing to you, you're not alone. In the 27-odd hours between the time the heads-up reached folks' email in-boxes and the press conference (which kicks off at 3 p.m. local time (11 a.m. PDT) at Brazil's  National Observatory in Rio de Janeiro), clever people took to Twitter to make their best guesses about what this surprise discovery might be. The predictions make reference to the ill-fated Comet ISON, Neil deGrasse Tyson's reboot of “Cosmos,” the Voyager spacecraft and even the 1990s sitcom “Friends.” The European Southern Observatory tweeted Wedned say morning that “Some of your #ESOrumors are really funny.
NEWS
September 12, 2013 | By Monte Morin
After 36 years of space travel and months of heated debate among scientists, NASA confirmed Thursday that Voyager 1 has indeed left our solar system and had entered interstellar space more than a year ago. "Voyager has boldly gone where no probe has gone before, marking one of the most significant technological achievements in the annals of the history of science," said John Grunsfeld, NASA's associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate....
ENTERTAINMENT
August 4, 2010 | By Robert Lloyd, Los Angeles Times Television Critic
Physicist Brian Cox is the nerd who is cooler than you. In the parallel universe known as Britain, which occasionally intersects with ours, he is a media star, the figure of choice for explaining science to the people — a Carl Sagan with a Britpop haircut, a Lancashire accent and a permanent toothy smile. He's less well known here, though you may have seen the online TED video in which he describes his work at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. (His "main research interest" there, he writes on his website, "is the FP420 R&D project, aimed at upgrading ATLAS and CMS with forward proton detectors 420m away from the interaction points."
SCIENCE
April 2, 2014 | By Deborah Netburn
Hubble has spotted a comet named Sliding Spring spewing gas and dust into space as it zooms to a close encounter with Mars in October. Researchers working with the Hubble Space Telescope recently released two images of the comet. The image on the left, captured March 11, shows what the Hubble saw. The one on the right has been resolved to reveal what appears to be two distinct jets shooting out of the comet's the icy nucleus. Comet Sliding Spring began its journey to the sun 1 million years ago from the hypothesized, but never seen Oort cloud in the cold, outer reaches of our solar system.
SCIENCE
March 26, 2014 | By Deborah Netburn
In a first, scientists have detected rings encircling an M&M-shaped asteroid known as Chariklo. Until now, only the solar system's four gas planets - Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus and especially Saturn - were known to have rings. "It was an extremely surprising discovery," said James Bauer, a planetary astronomer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge who was not involved in the finding. "No one has ever seen rings around a comet or an asteroid before. This is a brand-new area.
SCIENCE
March 26, 2014 | By Karen Kaplan
It began with a cryptic announcement of a press conference in Brazil where “an international team of astronomers” would announce “a surprise discovery in the outer solar system.” If that sounds intriguing to you, you're not alone. In the 27-odd hours between the time the heads-up reached folks' email in-boxes and the press conference (which kicks off at 3 p.m. local time (11 a.m. PDT) at Brazil's  National Observatory in Rio de Janeiro), clever people took to Twitter to make their best guesses about what this surprise discovery might be. The predictions make reference to the ill-fated Comet ISON, Neil deGrasse Tyson's reboot of “Cosmos,” the Voyager spacecraft and even the 1990s sitcom “Friends.” The European Southern Observatory tweeted Wedned say morning that “Some of your #ESOrumors are really funny.
SCIENCE
March 26, 2014 | By Amina Khan
Planet-hunters scouring the heavens have found thousands of distant worlds around other stars, but astronomers may have overlooked one lurking much closer to home. Scientists searching for glimmers of light beyond Pluto say they've discovered a new dwarf planet - and that its movements hint that an invisible giant planet far larger than Earth may inhabit the solar system's mysterious frontier. The new dwarf planet, dubbed 2012 VP113 and described in a study published in Thursday's edition of the journal Nature, helps confirm the existence of an "inner Oort cloud" in an interplanetary no man's land that was once thought to be barren but could be teeming with rocky objects.
NEWS
March 26, 2014 | By Amina Khan
Astronomers searching for the faintest glimmers of light beyond distant Pluto say they've discovered a new dwarf planet - and that this planetoid's movements hint that an invisible giant planet perhaps 10 times the size of Earth could be lurking around the dark fringes of our solar system. The new dwarf planet 2012 VP-113, described Wednesday in the journal Nature, helps confirm the existence of an “inner Oort cloud” in an interplanetary no man's land that was once thought to be empty but could potentially be teeming with rocky denizens.
SCIENCE
March 8, 2014 | By Amina Khan
In a young, nearby solar system, scientists have discovered giant clouds of poison gas -- the smoking gun from a violent encounter, astronomers say. Based on massive amounts of carbon monoxide gas around the star Beta Pictoris, either two Mars-sized planets slammed into each other with catastrophic results, or hordes of comets are crashing into one another at an astounding rate. The findings, published by the journal Science, could help provide an up-close look at how stars and their planetary systems form and evolve.
SCIENCE
October 1, 2010 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
A tiny satellite circling Earth is providing an unexpectedly complicated picture of the solar system's heliosphere, the invisible bubble that extends far beyond the planetary orbits to where the solar wind strikes the vast sea of particles and radiation that fill interstellar space, researchers said Thursday. It turns out the heliosphere is changing much more rapidly than scientists ever expected, according to data published Thursday in the Journal of Geophysical Research. Despite its great distance from Earth, the heliosphere is of great interest to astronomers because it shields the solar system from as much as 90% of the cosmic rays that would otherwise enter it. As humans contemplate manned spaceflights of longer durations, "galactic cosmic radiation turns out to be the most important factor" for the safety of astronauts, astronomer David McComas of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio said at a news conference.
OPINION
February 18, 2014 | By Edward C. Stone
The Voyager 1 spacecraft is the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space. Even if defined only by distance, the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory twin Voyagers are America's greatest space adventure. They've been flying successfully for more than 36 years and are billions of miles from home. What isn't widely known is that they almost never made it out there. The first proposed mission in the late 1960s was for four spacecraft to take advantage of a rare alignment of the four outer planets of the solar system; Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune would all be on the same side of the sun. However, in December 1971, NASA decided it couldn't afford the $1-billion price tag for a 12-year "grand tour" mission with four spacecraft.
SCIENCE
February 13, 2014 | By Deborah Netburn
Scientists have a new map -- the best created so far -- of the largest moon in our solar system, Ganymede, and it is both beautiful and revealing. Ganymede is technically a satellite of Jupiter, but it is really a world unto itself. It is bigger than both Mercury and Pluto. If it orbited the sun rather than Jupiter, we would likely consider it a planet.  If we could peer deep beneath its icy surface, we might find a liquid ocean. And deep beneath that, at the center of the moon, there may be a different type of ice that forms under extreme pressure, scientists said.
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