NASA Probe Captures Farthest Images Taken Away From Earth

NASA Spacecraft Takes Photo From 3.79 Billion Miles

He further said that now they have been able to make images farther from Earth than any spacecraft in history. The photo surpassed the "Pale Blue Dot" images of Earth taken in 1990 by NASA's Voyager 1. It'll be the first up-close look of a Kuiper Belt object. That image, known as the "Pale Blue Dot", was taken from 3.75 billion miles (6 billion km) away.

Using the aforementioned LORRI tool, New Horizons managed to snap images of multiple Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs), as well as dwarf planets, including the 2012 HE85 and 2012 HZ84 KBOs shown in the image above.

"New Horizons just couldn't be better. we're bearing down on our flyby target", said lead scientist Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. On January 1, 2019, the probe will fly by a small, frozen world in the Kuiper Belt called 2014 MU69, which orbits a billion miles beyond Pluto. After New Horizons launched in 2006, it flung itself around Jupiter in 2007 to get a boost toward Pluto, where it arrived in summer 2015.

For a short time, this LORRI frame of the "Wishing Well" star cluster, taken December 5, 2017, was the farthest image ever made by a spacecraft, breaking a 27-year record set by Voyager 1. It was a fleeting record, because 2 hours later, the two KBOs were imaged.

The Kuiper belt object flyby is "not almost as flashy as Pluto", Porter said, but "it's a really unique observation".

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Two hours later, LORRI looked at two objects in the Kuiper Belt, the ring of icy objects that New Horizons has been traveling through in the wake of its Pluto encounter. Data is stored in a solid-state recorder (the only moving parts in these flash memory devices are the electrons) on New Horizons and is then transmitted via radio waves.

The Kuiper Belt is a circumstellar disc in the outer Solar System extending from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to approximately 50 AU from the Sun.

The Kuiper Belt is similar to the asteroid belt but is far larger: 20 times as wide and 20 to 200 times as massive.

"That tells us this object is going to have a lot of surprises in store for New Horizons", said Marc Buie, the New Horizons science team member from SwRI who led the observation campaign. New Horizons began its Kuiper Belt mission previous year. According to NASA, the spacecraft is in hibernation mode until June 4, when mission controllers will bring it back online to start preparing it for its visit with MU69.

It wasn't until this past December when Voyager 1's record was finally broken.

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