Published: Wed, February 14, 2018
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NASA breaks record for pictures taken farthest from Earth

NASA breaks record for pictures taken farthest from Earth

This feat was achieved when the probe called New Horizons took photographs of objects in the Kuiper Belt, a cluster of icy objects located at the edge of the Solar System.

On February 14, 1990, Voyager 1 turned its camera back towards Earth and made the famous "Pale Blue Dot" image from a distance of 3.75 billion miles.

Voyager 1's cameras were turned off shortly after that portrait, leaving its distance record unchallenged for more than 27 years.

New Horizons took more photos as it sped deeper into the cosmos in December.

This image, taken by New Horizons on December 5, 2017, shows the "Wishing Well" Galactic open star cluster. At a distance of 3.79 billion miles, or 40.9 astronomical units from our cosmic home, the image took the crown from Voyager 1's "Pale Blue Dot" as the image taken farthest from Earth. According to a NASA press release, two hours later, it snapped images of KBOs 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85, setting yet another record. This means that most of its activities are bound to set distance records.

Mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, will bring the spacecraft out of its electronic slumber on June 4, 2018, and begin a series of system checkouts and other activities to prepare New Horizons for the close encounter with 2014 MU69. The date of the rendezvous is on New Year's Day, according to Cheng.

Launched in 2006, New Horizons is headed toward 2014 MU69, an icy world 1 billion miles beyond Pluto.

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 USA to complete its reconnaissance of our solar system. This image is, for now, one of the farthest pictures from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft. There, NASA says it plans for New Horizons to make flyby investigations of at least two dozen objects, such as "dwarf planets and 'Centaurs, ' former [Kuiper Belt objects] in unstable orbits that cross the orbits of the giant planets". The photos were also the first close shots ever taken of the KBOs. However, that might not be the last we hear from New Horizons, as its power source could continue to provide life into 2026 and beyond. That image has held the record for the farthest ever taken away from Earth-until now.

"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.

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