Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Wayne Curry

New Horizons Captures The Farthest Image Ever Taken From Earth

New Horizons Captures The Farthest Image Ever Taken From Earth

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. As of this writing, it's the farthest image ever made from Earth. Even though it's napping, NASA says New Horizons still covers over 700,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) of space each day.

Snapped on 5 December, the image was taken by the satellite's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) and surpasses the famous 'Pale Blue Dot' image of Earth taken by Voyager 1 when it was at a point 6.06bn km from Earth.

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.

New Horizons is just the fifth spacecraft to speed beyond the outer planets, so many of its activities set distance records. "On Dec. 9 it carried out the most-distant course-correction maneuver ever, as the mission team guided the spacecraft toward a close encounter with a KBO named 2014 MU69 on January 1, 2019", says NASA. At one billion miles beyond Pluto, that will be the farthest planetary encounter in history, according to NASA. 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.

In 2017, New Horizons began its mission in the Kuiper Belt, where it aims to observe around two dozen KBOs, dwarf planets and centaurs.

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During its mission, the spacecraft helped researchers answer basic questions about the surface properties, geology and interior makeup of these bodies.

Two hours later, LORRI looked at two objects in the Kuiper Belt, the ring of icy objects that New Horizons has been traveling through in the wake of its Pluto encounter.

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

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

"New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched", New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, was quoted as saying in a NASA statement. The transmission rate for New Horizons is only about 2 kilobits per second. They're also the closest-ever images of Kuiper Belt objects. "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.

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