NASA breaks record for pictures taken farthest from Earth

NASA Probe Captures Farthest Images Taken Away From Earth

Back in 2017, NASA published an image taken by the New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager, also called LORRI. It extends in a disc around our sun, beyond the orbit of Neptune.

That's because they were taken from the farthest point from planet Earth of any images ever captured, snapped by a spacecraft just over 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers) from its home planet.

Shots of these two icy objects were captured by NASA's New Horizons space probe.

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has returned some magnificent images of the Solar System's outer reaches around Pluto, its primary target. That picture, the brainchild of the late physicist Carl Sagan, looked back at Earth from a distance of 3.75 billion miles.

Not long after that achievement in 1990, Voyager 1's cameras were switched off, but has since drifted endlessly into space for the past 27 years and will continue to do so for possibly millions of years.

These false-color images of two Kuiper Belt objects, 2012 HZ84 (left) and 2012 HE85 (right), helped give New Horizons' LORRI instrument the title of farthest-out working camera.

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"That New Year's flight past MU69 will be the farthest planetary encounter in history, happening one billion miles beyond the Pluto system - which New Horizons famously explored in July 2015", said NASA.

On December 9, it carried out the most-distant course-correction manoeuvre ever, as the mission team guided the spacecraft towards a close encounter with a Kuiper Belt objects (KBO) named 2014 MU69 on January 1, 2019. Mission scientists study the images to determine the objects' shapes and surface properties, and to check for moons and rings. The spacecraft is also making nearly continuous measurements of the plasma, dust and neutral-gas environment during its journey.

Most of the time, New Horizons is sleeping - hibernating, to save energy.

New Horizons, in contrast, is just getting started. The transmission rate for New Horizons is only about 2 kilobits per second.

"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, said in a statement. It is the fifth of five artificial objects to achieve the escape velocity that will allow them to leave the Solar System. To get there, New Horizons is trucking: It travels more than 700,000 miles (1.1 million km) a day.

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