NASA Probe Captures Farthest Images Taken Away From Earth

NASA Probe Captures Farthest Images Taken Away From Earth

New Horizons is the probe that flew by Pluto on July 14, 2015, and beamed back those wonderful pictures.

New Horizons has observed several Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) and dwarf planets at unique phase angles, as well as so-called Centaurs - former KBOs in unstable orbits that cross the orbits of the giant planets on the edge of our solar system. "And now, we've been able to make images farther from Earth than any spacecraft in history".

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is now one of the most distant human-made objects, and it just took the most distant photograph ever.

But New Horizons is the first to send back a picture for so far afield.

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With diameters of a hundred kilometers or so, the two Kuiper belt objects are not large enough to classify as dwarf planets.

The frame of the Wishing Well galactic star cluster, taken by the probe's Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) was taken when New Horizons was 3.79 billion miles from Earth.

New Horizons is sleeping now, resting up for its next big adventure.

The hazy pictures above may not look like much, but they're the farthest images a manmade spacecraft has ever made from Earth. As fuzzy as they are, they're the closest look we've ever got at any objects inside this vast icy ring, which circles the Sun about 30 to 55 times further out than Earth.

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When you're traveling through 700,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) of space each day, nothing stands still.

The spacecraft is set to head 1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometres) beyond Pluto, on January 1 2019. During its voyage to the outer reaches of the solar system, the spacecraft usually stays in hibernation mode to conserve energy. It's not just taking awesome photos on its path, but also carrying measurements of the plasma, dust and neutral-gas environment along the way, enabling astronomers to better understand the outskirts of our solar system. 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.

"New Horizons is in a very good trajectory to see a lot of these objects close up", said Simon Porter, an astrophysicist at Southwest Research Institute in Colorado and part of the New Horizons mission.

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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