Science

NASA breaks record for pictures taken farthest from Earth

NASA breaks record for pictures taken farthest from Earth

Given that the New Horizons is still making its way through the solar system, it's entirely possible there will be more incredibly distant images in the weeks and months to come.

New Horizons is speeding toward its second target, 2014 MU69, a KBO one billion miles beyond Pluto, which it will encounter on New Year's Day 2019, covering a distance of more than 700,000 miles (1.1 million km) per day.

In so doing, they also broke a record that had stood untouched since 1990, when the Voyager 1 spacecraft sent back a final glimpse of Earth before its cameras went dark. NASA said the image, captured by New Horizons's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), was "for a time, the farthest image ever made from Earth". The new images are the closest images of Kuiper Belt objects obtained to date.

New Horizons is the first spacecraft NASA is flying past Pluto at close range.

At a distance of 3.79 billion miles from Earth, New Horizons recorded a picture of a star cluster this past December.

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On December 5, 2017, it broke a record set by Voyager 1 in 1990. After the flight in 2015, it was decided in the period from 2016 to 2021 to explore the Kuiper belt, located at a distance of 30-55 astronomical units from the Sun and containing the body, remaining after the formation of the Solar system.

Just two hours after breaking the almost three-decade-old record, New Horizons broke its own record, photographing two small KBOs, 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85 from an even more distant location.

They will also use LORRI to search the vicinity of MU69 for any objects that could potentially be hazardous to the spacecraft, such as moons, rings, and other debris. Now, it's reportedly snapped the farthest photo from Earth that's ever been taken. NASA says mission controllers will "bring the spacecraft out of its electronic slumber" this coming summer in anticipation of its next major close encounter, with an object known as 2014 MU69 on January 1, 2019.

Launched in 2006, the spacecraft made headlines in 2015 when its flyby of Pluto sent back vivid, high-definition images of the cold, icy dwarf planet that used to be but a smudge on telescopes. "The spacecraft also is making almost continuous measurements of the plasma, dust and neutral-gas environment along its path".

Following a December 9, 2017, course correction maneuver to refine New Horizons' journey to MU69, the spacecraft was put into hibernation on December 21.