New Horizons probe captures images at record distance from Earth

New Horizons probe captures images at record distance from Earth

This it slightly farther than the "Pale Blue Dot" image of Earth, which was snapped by the Voyager 1 mission when it was at a distance of 6.06 billion km (3.75 billion mi; 40.5 AU) 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", Alan Stern, the mission's principal investigator, said in the NASA statement.

The image, which to the naked eye just looks like an eery green glow in between some cloud looking things, is actually something much cooler.

The lab built and controls New Horizons, and released two photos of objects in the Kuiper belt, where the craft has been traveling since its historic fly-by of Pluto in 2015.

'New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched, ' said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. 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.




These December 2017 false-color images of KBOs 2012 HZ84 (left) and 2012 HE85 are, for now, the farthest from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft. As Ben Guarino reports for The Washington Post, the New Horizons spacecraft has set a new record, taking an image of objects in the Kuiper Belt while 3.79 billion miles from home.

The previous record holder for the farthest picture was NASA's Voyager 1, which shot the famous "Pale Blue Dot" image of Earth on February 14, 1990.

That record won't be broken by another probe anytime soon, since New Horizons is one of just a few spacecraft that have ever made the harrowing journey to the edges of our solar system. In the process, it sent back of the distant world, which for decades had appeared as little more than a smudge to even the most advanced telescopes on Earth.

For now, though, New Horizons is now enjoying some well-deserved hibernation as it hurtles away from us at a rate of roughly 700,000 miles a day. The Kuiper Belt is a disc-shaped expanse past the orbit of Neptune, about 2.7 billion to 9.3 billion miles (4.4 billion to 14.9 billion km) from the sun, that contains thousands of icy objects, comets and dwarf planets. According to Johns Hopkins University, where the scientists in charge of the spacecraft's data communications are based, it's not easy.

Flight controllers at the lab will awaken the spacecraft in June (it's now in electronic hibernation) and start getting it ready for the flyby. At the time of shooting the space station was at a distance of 6.12 billion kilometers from Earth. NASA says mission controllers will "bring the spacecraft out of its electronic slumber" this coming summer as preparation for its next major flyby.

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