Science

NASA Exhibits the Most Distant Images Taken by a Spaceship

NASA Exhibits the Most Distant Images Taken by a Spaceship

But every once in a while, it wakes up, and it snaps a few photos which it then beams back to Earth.

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has turned its telescopic camera toward a field of stars - and made history.

"New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched", New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, was quoted as saying in a NASA statement. Porter calculated when New Horizons could best observe the two Kuiper belt objects and helped schedule the images.

But this record didn't stand for long.

The previous record - not set on December 9, 2017 - came from the beloved Voyager 1 back in February 1990 with its "Pale Blue Dot" image of Earth from 3.75 billion miles from home. That's here. That's home.

The "Pale Blue Dot" was a part of the first ever "portrait" of the solar system taken by Voyager 1.

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has set a new record by capturing the farthest images from Earth by a spacecraft, surpassing the Voyager 1's record of capturing an image when it was 6.06 billion kilometres away from Earth. Stern is the principal investigator of New Horizons mission. In the first week of December, it passed the Pale Blue Dot's record distance. The distance? Over 6.1 billion kilometers.

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New Horizons has observed several Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) and dwarf planets at unique phase angles, as well as so-called Centaurs - former KBOs in unstable orbits that cross the orbits of the giant planets on the edge of our solar system. Next to nothing is known about the micro-surfaces of objects like these, Porter said. In the meantime, we'll always have 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85.

The Kuiper belt is a vast expanse of rocks, ice clumps, comets and dwarf planets beyond Neptune. It'll be the first up-close look of a Kuiper Belt object.

Two and a half years after becoming the first probe to study Pluto up close, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is gaining more fame for possessing the solar system's farthest-out camera in operation.

Launched in 2006, the New Horizons mission stayed true to its name. On Jan. 1, 2019, the spacecraft is also scheduled to fly past a 20 mile-long frozen mass called 2014 MU69.

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

New Horizons is reportedly healthy and everything is functioning as planned.