NASA space probe takes 'furthest ever' photo from Earth

NASA space probe takes 'furthest ever' photo from Earth

NASA space probe takes 'furthest ever' photo from Earth

The routine calibration frame of the "Wishing Well" galactic open star cluster, made by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on December 5, was taken when New Horizons was 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers, or 40.9 astronomical units) from Earth - making it, for a time, the farthest image ever made from Earth. Those objects were captured just a day after New Horizons set its first record by taking its "Wishing Well" shot while 3.79 billion miles from Earth.

"New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched".

For a couple of hours, this New Horizons image of the so-called Wishing Well star cluster, snapped on December 5, 2017, was the farthest image ever captured by a spacecraft.

So how does New Horizons send back images, even blurry ones, through all that space? Two hours later, it broke the record again with two images of KBOs that are also the closest-up image ever taken of any such object.

New Horizons Captures Record Breaking Images in the Kuiper Belt

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft just took the farthest-ever images from Earth, breaking an earlier record set by Voyager 1's "Pale Blue Dot" image taken nearly exactly 28 years ago. This belt is home to three officially recognized dwarf planets- Pluto, Haumea and Makemake.

The "Pale Blue Dot" images of Earth, taken in 1990, were part of the first ever "portrait" of the solar system taken by Voyager 1. 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. The probe is measuring levels of plasma, dust, and gases as it travels, and will eventually take a look at more than 20 other KBOs.

Flight controllers at a Johns Hopkins University lab in Laurel, Maryland, will awaken the spacecraft in June and begin preparing it for the flyby.

"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. The targeted object is known as 2014 MU69; the spacecraft will pass within 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometres ). But they're arguably among the most unbelievable photographic images ever. It finished its primary mission with the Pluto flyby in 2015 and is now on an extended mission to explore the Kuiper Belt, helping the U.S. to complete its reconnaissance of our solar system. 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.

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