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Space Science

NASA Finds Interstellar Matter From Beyond Our Solar System 75

An anonymous reader writes "For the very first time, a NASA spacecraft has detected matter from outside our solar system — material that came from elsewhere in the galaxy. This so-called interstellar material was spotted by NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX), a spacecraft that is studying the edge of the solar system from its orbit about 200,000 miles (322,000 kilometers) above Earth. 'This alien interstellar material is really the stuff that stars and planets and people are made of — it's really important to be measuring it,' said David McComas, IBEX principal investigator."
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NASA Finds Interstellar Matter From Beyond Our Solar System

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  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @09:00AM (#38890029)

    Where to start. First, go out at night - all those little dots in the sky ? They're called stars, and are all outside our solar system. (This has been known, depending on your point of view, for at least 400 years, and probably for 2 or more millennia.)

    Second, it is pretty common for meteorites contain little inclusions of interstellar matter - organic matter [hawaii.edu], silica [hawaii.edu], and even (really tiny) diamonds [nature.com]. And, while we are at it, a certain fraction of the micro-meteors observed with radar (to get their orbits) turn out to be interstellar [mps.mpg.de] as well. (The fraction of interstellar micro-meteors suggests that there may be a few kg-sized interstellar meteorites waiting to be picked up out of the thousands in the Antarctic meteorite fields, which would be something.)

    So, this is nice research, but it is only the first in its area, and it was silly of them to say "for the very first time."

  • Re:Same atoms (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday February 01, 2012 @09:14AM (#38890151) Journal

    Shouldn't you be able to find that material in abundance in the comets that go whizzing by as well as the great Oort cloud? Don't get me wrong, i'm really digging the "Small hard science missions" that NASA is focusing on I'm just trying to understand what makes THIS particular matter all that different from the stuff trapped all around us that didn't get sucked into any planetary formation.

    But if any NASA guys are here just let me say a big thumbs up, don't let the clueless try to drag you back into shooting meatbags into LEO, frankly you are giving us more hard science about how the universe works in a single one of these probes than in all the LEO missions the shuttle ever did. So keep sending the probes and if congress tries to screw you be sure to send a heads up to all the geek sites, we'll back you up. This is good work you are doing, and all the data your many probes are sending back will expand our knowledge of the solar system for decades. i know you guys don't hear this enough anymore since probes aren't sexy, but thanks for all the hard work and hard science you are giving us.

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard