Voyager 1 on edge of Solar System

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NASA's Voyager 1 probe is tantalizingly close to the edge of the solar system, but predicting when it will finally pop free into interstellar space is a challenging proposition, mission team members say.

Voyager 1 is plying new and exotic terrain at the limits of the sun's sphere of influence, and scientists simply don't know what to expect from these unexplored regions.

"We've never been there before," said Voyager project manager Suzanne Dodd of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "That's what makes it very hard. It's not unlike the first explorers sailing across the Atlantic Ocean to the New World. They thought they might know what they would see, but they saw things that were quite a bit different."

Knocking on the door
Voyager 1 and its twin, Voyager 2, launched a few weeks apart in 1977 to study the giant planets Saturn, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune. After completing this unprecedented "grand tour," the two probes kept flying, streaking through unexplored realms on their way to interstellar space. [Voyager: Humanity's Farthest Journey (Video)]

It looks like Voyager 1 will get there first. The probe is now more than 11.3 billion miles from Earth, making it the most farflung manmade object in the universe.

Voyager 1 has also encountered strange new conditions in the outer layers of the heliosphere — the huge bubble of charged particles and magnetic fields surrounding the sun — suggesting that the probe may be about to leave the solar system forever.

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Comet may collide with Mars in 2014

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A new found comet is apparently on course to have an exceedingly close call with the planet Mars in October 2014, and there is a chance — albeit small — that the comet may even collide with the Red Planet.

The new comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) was discovered Jan. 3 by the Scottish-Australian astronomer Robert H. McNaught, a prolific observer of both comets and asteroids who has 74 comet discoveries to his name.

McNaught is a participant in the Siding Spring Survey a program that hunts down asteroids that might closely approach the Earth. He discovered the new comet using the 0.5-meter Uppsala Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory, New South Wales, Australia.

Pre-discovery images of the comet from Dec. 8, 2012 by the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona were quickly found. Because the comet was discovered as part of its survey for asteroids, it bears the name of the observatory, Siding Spring. Officially it is catalogued as C/2013 A1.

When it was discovered, Comet Siding Spring was 669 million miles from the sun. Based on its orbital eccentricity, it is apparently a new or "virgin" comet, traveling in a parabolic orbit and making its very first visit to the vicinity of the sun. It is expected to pass closest to the sun (called perihelion) on Oct. 25, 2014 at a distance of 130 million miles.

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Coal Cleanest Possible Energy

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Researchers have discovered a stunning new process that takes the energy from coal without burning it -- and removes virtually all of the pollution.

The clean coal technique was developed by scientists at Ohio State University, with just $5 million in funding from the federal government, and took 15 years to achieve.

“We’ve been working on this for more than a decade,” Liang-Shih Fan, a chemical engineer and director of OSU’s Clean Coal Research Laboratory, told FoxNews.com, calling it a new energy conversion process. “We found a way to release the heat from coal without burning.”

The process removes 99 percent of the pollution from coal, which some scientists link to global warming. Coal-burning power plants produced about one-third of the nation’s carbon dioxide total in 2010, or about 2.3 billion metric tons, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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Live 'Kraken' Caught On Film

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The elusive giant squid, which can grow to a monstrous 26 feet in length and is likely the source of the Nordic legend of the kraken, has been captured on film at last.

The creature spends its days trawling the depths of the Pacific Ocean, at a depth where there is little oxygen or light and crushing pressure from the immense weight of the water above. It was spied by Japan’s National Science Museum, working in tandem with Japanese broadcaster NHK and the Discovery Channel, according to AFP.

"It was shining and so beautiful," museum researcher Tsunemi Kubodera told AFP. "I was so thrilled when I saw it first hand, but I was confident we would because we rigorously researched the areas we might find it, based on past data."

The immense creature, which has razor-toothed suckers and eyes the size of dinner plates, has been the subject of fables and fairy tales since ancient times. The Norse legend of the sea monster and the Scylla from Greek mythology might have derived from the giant squid.

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Astronaut Scott Kelly will attempt longest spaceflight ever by an American

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A former space shuttle commander whose twin brother is married to former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will attempt the longest spaceflight ever by an American.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will spend an entire year aboard the International Space Station beginning in 2015.

Both countries' space agencies announced the names of the two veteran spacefliers on Monday. The extended mission was approved almost two months ago to provide a medical foundation for future missions around the moon, as well as far-flung trips to asteroids and Mars.

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