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

Gwen Vasquez
February 11, 2018

With these pictures, New Horizons breaks a record of 27 years established by the NASA Voyager 1 probe when it captured the famous Earth photograph, Pale Blue Dot, at 6,0 60 million kilometers.

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. New Horizons was even farther from home than NASA's Voyager 1 when it captured the famous "Pale Blue Dot" image of Earth, according to the U.S. space agency. But they're arguably among the most awesome photographic images ever.

About two hours later, New Horizons later broke the record again with images of Kuiper Belt objects 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85.

New Horizons is best known for taking stunning photos of Pluto back in 2015. The image was captured on February 14, 1990, when the space probe was at a distance of 6.06 billion kilometers (3.75 billion miles) from Earth.

Earth can be seen as a tiny dot in the middle of the orange stripe on the right side in this "Pale Blue Dot" photograph, taken by NASA's Voyager 1 in 1990, almost 4 billion miles from Earth.

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For a couple of hours, this New Horizons image of the so-called Wishing Well star cluster, snapped on December 5, 2017, was the farthest image ever captured by a spacecraft.

The New Horizons spacecraft is said to be in good condition and is now hibernating, with mission control planning to awaken it again on June 4 in preparation for a flyby of Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 in mid-2019. "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. Kuiper Belt is a disc-shaped region beyond Neptune that extends from about 30 to 55 astronomical units from the Sun.

New Horizons made history by clicking the images using its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI). According to Johns Hopkins University, where the scientists in charge of the spacecraft's data communications are based, it's not easy.

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 transmission rate for New Horizons is only about 2 kilobits per second.

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