NASA Spacecraft Takes Photo From 3.79 Billion Miles

NASA Spacecraft Takes Photo From 3.79 Billion Miles

NASA Spacecraft Takes Photo From 3.79 Billion Miles

The last time they did this was 5 December, when New Horizons took a routine calibration image of a cluster of stars, breaking a record for the most distant photograph ever taken.

"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, the mission's principal investigator, said in the NASA statement.

For now, the Hubble telescope, which orbits Earth, can image most Kuiper belt objects in greater detail than New Horizon's eight-inch telescope, Porter said.

New Horizons broke its own record by taking the image of the two KBOs shown above.

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

These images, as announced by the administration, broke the 27 years old record of Voyager 1 when it captured the famous Pale Blue Dot image of the Earth.

New Horizons is just the fifth spacecraft to speed beyond the outer planets, so many of its activities set distance records. In February 1990, Voyager 1 was exiting our solar system when it snapped the iconic "Pale Blue Dot" photo - a picture of Earth from over 6.06 billion kilometers away. At one billion miles beyond Pluto, that will be the farthest planetary encounter in history, according to NASA.

New Horizons has observed several Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) and dwarf planets at unique phase angles, as well as Centaurs at extremely high phase angles to search for forward-scattering rings or dust.

After flying past Pluto, the spacecraft entered into the Kupier Belt and the pictures show an even more diverse landscape than the scientists had previously believed. Flight controllers at a Johns Hopkins University lab in Laurel, Maryland, will awaken the spacecraft in June and start getting it ready for the flyby. The transmission rate for New Horizons is only about 2 kilobits per second.

"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. But they're arguably among the most fantastic photographic images ever. "This post-Pluto mission is a complete and comprehensive exploration of the Kuiper Belt", said Alice Bowman, New Horizons mission operations manager, also from APL. Data is stored in a solid-state recorder (the only moving parts in these flash memory devices are the electrons) on New Horizons and is then transmitted via radio waves.

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