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NASA's New Horizons Spacecraft Captures Record-Breaking Images

NASA's New Horizons Spacecraft Captures Record-Breaking Images

At the time, New Horizons was 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers) from Earth.

The images for "Pale Blue Dot" - part of a composite - were taken 3.75 billion miles away.

Prior to New Horizons' star shot, the image taken farthest from Earth was one of the Blue Marble snapped by the Voyager 1 spacecraft on February 14, 1990.

As a result, just two hours after it had taken the record-breaking image of the "Wishing Well" star cluster, the probe snapped pictures of the Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) known as 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85 (seen below, left and right).

The New Horizons spacecraft, which flew past Pluto in 2015, is now on its way out to the Kuiper Belt, the wide band of small pieces of rock and ice that encircles the solar system.

For the past 27 years, Voyager 1 has been the record holder for the farthest captured image in history.

"New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched", Alan Stern, New Horizons Principal Investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, said in a statement. Given that the New Horizons is still making its way through the solar system, it's entirely possible there will be more incredibly distant images in the weeks and months to come. Voyager 1's achievement lasted as long as it did because the mission crew shut off the camera shortly after capturing the Pale Blue Dot image. "It is possible for the cameras to be turned on, but it is not a priority for Voyager's Interstellar Mission", according to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's website.

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What makes New Horizons' momentous event even more interesting is that it broke its own record after just two hours.

New Horizons took more photos as it sped deeper into the cosmos in December.

New Horizons is now in electronic hibernation.

Getting the images to Earth is no easy task. There are three images in total, each focusing on a different distant object.

As one of only five spacecraft to travel beyond the Outer Planets, New Horizons has set a number of other distance records as well.

For now, though, New Horizons is now enjoying some well-deserved hibernation as it hurtles away from us at a rate of roughly 700,000 miles a day.

New Horizons snapped these two farthest-out shots, of Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85, on December 5, 2017.


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