This record-breaking picture was taken from 6 billion km away

11 February, 2018, 04:12 | Author: Bridget Leonard
  • Wishing Well star cluster

At the time the image was taken the spacecraft was at a staggering 3.79 billion miles away from Earth, which makes it the farthest image ever made from Earth. These December 2017 false-color images of KBOs 2012 HZ84 (left) and 2012 HE85 are, for now, the farthest objects from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft.

NASA says its New Horizons spacecraft made an image using its telescopic camera to make an image 3.79 billion miles from Earth, which makes it the farthest one ever made from our planet. The camera photographed three subjects in December: a star group nicknamed the Wishing Well, as well as two objects closer to home that are part of the band of rocks, ice clumps and dwarf planets at the edge of our solar system called the Kuiper belt.

That picture was part of a composite of 60 images looking back at the solar system, on February 14, 1990, when Voyager was 3.75 billion miles from Earth. Now New Horizons has just broke its own record, delivering a new "farthest" milestone image.

On Earth, NASA's Deep Space Network antenna dishes catch the faint signals coming from New Horizons and reassemble the raw data into a usable form.

For the two record-breaking Kuiper Belt object images, it took about 4 hours to transmit each image and 6 hours for the data to travel to Earth, Alan Stern, the principal investigator on the New Horizons mission, told Live Science.


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 previous year. Kuiper Belt is a disc-shaped region beyond Neptune that extends from about 30 to 55 astronomical units from the Sun.

New Horizons, in contrast, is just getting started. (Pluto is one of these dwarf planets.) 2014 MU69 is almost a billion miles beyond Pluto, which itself is 4.67 billion miles (7.5 billion km) beyond Earth.

When you're traveling through 700,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) of space each day, nothing stands still. It'll be the first up-close look of a Kuiper Belt object. It plans to observe around two dozen objects in the belt, including dwarf planets and "Centaurs"-objects with unstable orbits that cross the orbits of the solar system's giant planets".

New Horizons is best known for taking stunning photos of Pluto back in 2015.

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