NASA space probe takes 'furthest ever' photo from Earth

Feb 11, 2018, 05:00
NASA space probe takes 'furthest ever' photo from Earth

Every once in a while, its mission operators turn on its camera to take a few pictures and calibrations and beam them back to Earth. 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. After New Horizons launched in 2006, it flung itself around Jupiter in 2007 to get a boost toward Pluto, where it arrived in summer 2015. This belt is home to three officially recognized dwarf planets- Pluto, Haumea and Makemake. Now, the shuttle is currently on its way to study one or more other Kuiper belt objects.

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

Since then, Voyager 1 hasn't taken any photos.

So how does New Horizons send back images, even blurry ones, through all that space? Two hours later, it broke it again.

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Alan Stern, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute said, "New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched".

The New Horizons probe took an image which is the furthest ever created from Earth, beating a record set by NASA's Voyager probe. These December 2017 false-color images of KBOs 2012 HZ84 (left) and 2012 HE85 are, for now, the farthest objects from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft.

After its visit to Pluto, New Horizons is now heading towards its next target and will make a close encounter with a Kuiper Belt object named 2014 MU69 on January 1, 2019.

NASA published a pair of images taken by the New Horizons spacecraft, and they're not much to look at.

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New Horizons took more photos as it sped deeper into the cosmos in December.

New Horizons is the probe that flew by Pluto on July 14, 2015, and beamed back those wonderful pictures. The Kuiper Belt is a disc-shaped expanse past the orbit of Neptune, about 2.7 billion to 9.3 billion miles (4.4 billion to 14.9 billion km) from the sun, that contains thousands of icy objects, comets and dwarf planets.

The Kuiper Belt is similar to the asteroid belt but is far larger: 20 times as wide and 20 to 200 times as massive. "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.

"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.

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