NASA Exhibits the Most Distant Images Taken by a Spaceship

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

The previous record - not set on December 9, 2017 - came from the beloved Voyager 1 back in February 1990 with its "Pale Blue Dot" image of Earth from 3.75 billion miles from home.

These December 2017 false-color images of KBOs 2012 HZ84 (left) and 2012 HE85 are, for now, the farthest from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft. It has the goal of observing "at least two-dozen" more Kuiper Belt objects.

NASA says the routine calibration frame of the "Wishing Well" galactic open star cluster was taken on December 5th 2017. Those objects were captured just a day after New Horizons set its first record by taking its "Wishing Well" shot while 3.79 billion miles from Earth. When that happens, it will break the record again.

NASA published a pair of images taken by the New Horizons spacecraft, and they're not much to look at. Voyager took them by turning its lens back towards Earth as the spacecraft sailed beyond Neptune on February 14, 1990.

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The Kuiper Belt is similar to an asteroid belt, but further out from the Sun and composed of dwarf planets and frozen ice - rather than rocky bodies.

"New Horizons just couldn't be better".

New Horizons was launched in 2006 and is now in electronic hibernation.

Now, using its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), the spacecraft has photographed several Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) and dwarf planets at unique angles.

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Back then, iconic astronomer Carl Sagan had to convince NASA to turn the spacecraft's cameras around to snap the iconic image of our own planet before it ended its mission. 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 United States to complete its reconnaissance of our solar system. Specifically, New Horizons is targeting 2014 MU69, a mysterious object (or pair of two objects) which Alan Stern, mission principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), has called "provocative" and a "scientific bonanza".

Most of the time, New Horizons is sleeping - hibernating, to save energy.

That flight past MU69 will be the farthest planetary encounter in history, happening one billion miles beyond the Pluto system, which New Horizons explored in July 2015.

New Horizons is reportedly healthy and everything is functioning as planned.

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