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m3n4.net September 25, 2018


NASA's New Horizons breaks record by taking the Most Distant Pictures Ever

11 February 2018, 05:01 | Brenda Erickson

Enlarge Image New Horizons captured this record-breaking image of the Wishing Well star cluster in December. NASA JHUAPL SwRI

Enlarge Image New Horizons captured this record-breaking image of the Wishing Well star cluster in December.                  NASA  JHUAPL  SwRI

New Horizons is not as far from Earth as Voyager 1, but this spacecraft is also on track to leave the solar system.

The Pale Blue Dot was the final picture beamed back to Earth by Voyager 1, now the most distant thing made by humans and the first craft to cross into interstellar space. Or restarted. The probe is periodically in communication with the mission team as it closes in on its next target, a Kuiper Belt object (or perhaps even two paired objects) known as 2014 MU69. On December 5, New Horizons took a snap of a star cluster dubbed "Wishing well" and at that time it was nearly 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers) away from Earth.

The record-breaking photo was taken by the New Horizons spacecraft when it flew past Pluto (you'll always be a planet to me, Pluto) in July 2015. With its latest wake-up, it broke the record for the farthest image humanity has ever taken away from Earth.

Talking about the new milestone images is New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, who said, "New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched". 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.

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New Horizons is the fifth spacecraft to go beyond the outer planets of our solar systems, so is in a prime position to break a few records.

For a short time, this LORRI frame of the "Wishing Well" star cluster, taken December 5, 2017, was the farthest image ever made by a spacecraft, breaking a 27-year record set by Voyager 1.

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

New Horizons continues its journey into the cosmos at a rate of about 700,000 miles a day.

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New Horizons has observed several Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) and dwarf planets at unique phase angles, as well as so-called Centaurs - former KBOs in unstable orbits that cross the orbits of the giant planets on the edge of our solar system. Now, the shuttle is currently on its way to study one or more other Kuiper belt objects. That was followed up with the shots of the Kuiper Belt two hours later.

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.

New Horizons is going to get nudged out of hibernation again on the 4th of June.

The previous record holder for the farthest picture was NASA's Voyager 1.

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