NASA space probe takes 'furthest ever' photo from Earth

11 February, 2018, 05:34 | Author: Larry Hoffman
  • Wishing Well star cluster

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has captured the farthest images from Earth by a spacecraft and set a new record. There are only four spacecraft that have ever traveled that far from home: Voyager 1 and 2, and Pioneer 10 and 11.

Back in 2017, NASA published an image taken by the New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager, also called LORRI.

NASA said in a statement that New Horizons snapped a picture of a group of stars known as the "Wishing Well" when the spacecraft was about 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers) from Earth.

Compare that achievement to Voyager 1, which was 3.75 billion miles (6.06 billion kilometers) from Earth when it took the famous "Pale Blue Dot" image of our home world on February 14, 1990.

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The Pale Blue Dot images were taken at a distance of 3.75 billion miles (6.06 billion kilometers), and show Earth itself as a mere speck amid space.

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. At one billion miles beyond Pluto, that will be the farthest planetary encounter in history, according to NASA. Now, it's heading towards the Kuiper Belt, the circumstellar disk surrounding our solar system. Although the main objective of New Horizons was to study Pluto and the Kuiper Belt of icy, rocky objects, the spacecraft first flew past the solar system's largest planet, Jupiter, in early 2007 - just a little over a year after launch.

The New Horizons spacecraft is healthy and is now in hibernation.

New Horizons, in contrast, is just getting started.

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"New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched", New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, was quoted as saying in a NASA statement.

"That tells us this object is going to have a lot of surprises in store for New Horizons", said Marc Buie, the New Horizons science team member from SwRI who led the observation campaign. It is the fifth of five artificial objects to achieve the escape velocity that will allow them to leave the Solar System.

New Horizons was launched on January 19, 2006. They're also the closest-ever images of Kuiper Belt objects.

On July 14, 2015, at 11:49 UTC, it flew 12,500 km (7,800 mi) above the surface of Pluto, making it the first spacecraft to explore the dwarf planet.

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