NASA breaks record for pictures taken farthest from Earth

NASA Probe Captures Farthest Images Taken Away From Earth

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.

The record was previously held by NASA's Voyager 1 when it captured the famous "Pale Blue Dot" image of Earth more than 27 years ago on Valentine's Day, 1990.

That picture was part of a composite of 60 images looking back at the solar system, on February 14, 1990, when Voyager was 6.06 billion kilometres from Earth. Just two hours before taking the record-breaking images of the Kuiper Belt objects, it took an image of a star cluster called the "Wishing Well", which is now the second-farthest image from Earth ever taken.

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. Now New Horizons has just broke its own record, delivering a new "farthest" milestone image. Or restarted. The probe is periodically in communication with the mission team as it closes in on its next target, a Kuiper Belt object (or perhaps even two paired objects) known as 2014 MU69.

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft recently turned its telescopic camera toward a field of stars, snapped an image - and made history.

New Horizons was launched on January 19, 2006.

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New Horizons is sleeping now, resting up for its next big adventure.

"Combining images with the measurements we make of the composition of and environment around MU69, should teach us a great deal about objects like MU69 that built dwarf planets like Pluto", Weaver said.

But now, New Horizons mission is yet to finish as it travels at a speed of 1.1m km a day to reach its final objective: the observation of objects in the Kuiper-Edgeworth Belt which got underway past year. The spacecraft is also making nearly continuous measurements of the plasma, dust and neutral-gas environment during its journey.

New Horizons is reportedly healthy and everything is functioning as planned. It was a fleeting record, because 2 hours later, the two KBOs were imaged.

The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia describing the New Horizons spacecraft. It performed an unprecedented flyby study of the Pluto system in 2015, offering a dramatic view of the dwarf planet and its satellites. "This post-Pluto mission is a complete and comprehensive exploration of the Kuiper Belt", said Alice Bowman, New Horizons mission operations manager, also from APL.

New Horizons will fly about three times closer to MU69 than it did to Pluto in July 2015, allowing the spacecraft's cameras to provide a more detailed look at the object's surface.

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