New Horizons Captures The Farthest Image Ever Taken From Earth

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

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is now one of the most distant human-made objects, and it just took the most distant photograph ever. Just 2 hours before, the spacecraft had officially claimed the title of spaciest photographer by capturing a camera-calibration shot of a far-off star cluster known as the Wishing Well.

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.

"And now, we've been able to make images farther from Earth than any spacecraft in history", Stern said. They're also the closest images of Kuiper Belt objects.

Those snapshots of the December 2012 KBO 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85 are so far the furthest ever captured by a spacecraft, and the closest to any body of Kuiper, the agency stressed in a statement.

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"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.

As the interplanetary New Horizons probe woke up from its hibernating slumber, it turned its telescopic camera toward a field of stars and took a picture - making history.

New Horizons was even farther from home than NASA's Voyager 1 when it captured the famous "Pale Blue Dot" image of Earth.

For a short time, this New Horizons of the "Wishing Well" star cluster, taken December 5, 2017, was the farthest image ever made by a spacecraft, according to NASA. Both are floating in the Kuiper Belt, an area on the edge of our solar system that NASA's spacecraft is now exploring.

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Back in 2017, NASA published an image taken by the New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager, also called LORRI. Now, it's zipping along at more than 700,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) each day - moving farther and farther out into our solar system. Flight controllers at a Johns Hopkins University lab in Laurel, Maryland, will awaken the spacecraft in June and start getting it ready for the flyby.

The photos taken far into space are a part of the New Horizons spacecraft mission, the fifth spacecraft to go beyond the outer planets. The red line marks the path of the New Horizons spacecraft.

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.

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