NASA breaks record for pictures taken farthest from Earth

NASA breaks record for pictures taken farthest from Earth

NASA says mission controllers will "bring the spacecraft out of its electronic slumber" this coming summer in anticipation of its next major close encounter, with an object known as 2014 MU69 on January 1, 2019. 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 USA to complete its reconnaissance of our solar system. These images, which have since been released to the public, have set the new record for the most distant images ever taken. This image is, for now, one of the farthest pictures from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft. Besides analyzing MU69, New Horizons will also make observations of a dozen other objects including dwarf planets and "Centaurs", or objects with unstable orbits that float around in the Kuiper Belt.

At first glance it might not look like much - but, with a fuzzy purple and green photo, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has made history. On December 5th of past year, it woke up and took a routine image of a star cluster called the Wishing Well to calibrate its camera, the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI).

Image of the "Wishing Well" star cluster, taken December 5, 2017, which temporarily broke the 27-year record set by Voyager 1. The image of an icy rock in the Kuiper belt has had colour added to increase the contrast.

"New Horizons just couldn't be better...we're bearing down on our flyby target", said lead scientist Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

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However, in December of 2017, the New Horizons team began conducting a routine calibration test of the LORRI instrument.

In so doing, they also broke a record that had stood untouched since 1990, when the Voyager 1 spacecraft sent back a final glimpse of Earth before its cameras went dark. From here on out, every image it sends back will be the most distant image ever sent back. Considering that was an image of our own planet taken from afar, it figures that it'd probably remain the more popular and iconic of the two―humanity can be self-centered, after all, and the Kuiper Belt is remote.

New Horizons is now traveling about 700,000 miles (1.1M km) every single day. "New Horizons is on the hunt to understand these objects, and we invite everyone to ring in the next year with the excitement of exploring the unknown".

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