NASA Probe Captures Farthest Image from Earth

11 February, 2018, 05:29 | Author: Elena Summers
  • NASA Captures the Farthest Images Ever Taken From Earth With New Horizons Spacecraft

That was the farthest-from-Earth image that had ever been taken by a spacecraft, breaking the last "farthest" record set by Voyager 1 about 27 years ago. By then, it will have time to beat again and again it own record of farthest image ever taken from earth.

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

These December 2017 false-colour images of Kupier-Edgeworth Belt objects 2012 HZ84 (left) and 2012 HE85 are, for now, the farthest from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft.

The record was previously held by NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft, which snapped the image data for the famous "Pale Blue Dot" image on February 14, 1990. About two hours later, New Horizons later broke the record again. 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.

During its mission, the spacecraft helped researchers answer basic questions about the surface properties, geology and interior makeup of these bodies. 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. 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, according to NASA.

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

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One of LORRI's pictures shows the "Wishing Well" star cluster, a scattering of points of light that New Horizons could use for camera calibration purposes.

Scientists are eager to find out what New Horizons makes of MU69. During its voyage to the outer reaches of the solar system, the spacecraft usually stays in hibernation mode to conserve energy.

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

New Horizons is the fastest spacecraft ever launched, traveling at a speed of 700,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) per day.

New Horizons is still on an active mission to visit the Kuiper Belt. For now, New Horizons won't be sending home any snapshots.

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