- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Scientists say the space outside our solar system is different than within the confines of the sun’s neighborhood.

NASA’s announcement Tuesday came from observations by an Earth-orbiting spacecraft studying the edge of the solar system. The probe is the first to directly measure interstellar matter streaming into the solar system.

Among the new findings: There are more oxygen atoms within our solar system than in the immediate neighborhood outside. Scientists say it’s possible the life-supporting element could be locked up in dust or ice.

The spacecraft called Interstellar Boundary Explorer was launched in 2008 and is circling 200,000 miles above Earth.

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