Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
Tech | By Amelia Peters

NASA Spacecraft Takes Photo From 3.79 Billion Miles

NASA Spacecraft Takes Photo From 3.79 Billion Miles

Prior to New Horizons' star shot, the image taken farthest from Earth was one of the Blue Marble snapped by the Voyager 1 spacecraft on February 14, 1990.

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.

Voyager 1's cameras were turned off shortly after that portrait, leaving its distance record unchallenged for more than 27 years. Two hours later, it broke the record again with two images of KBOs that are also the closest-up image ever taken of any such object. New Horizons' encounter with Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, which orbits a billion miles beyond Pluto, will offer the first close-up look at such a pristine building block of the solar system - and will be performed in a region of deep space that was practically unknown just a generation ago. The images of KBO 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85 are also the closest-ever images of KBOs. When the image was taken, the spacecraft was at a distance of 3.75 billion miles from Earth.

The New Horizons spacecraft is healthy and is now in hibernation. The spacecraft is also making nearly continuous measurements of the plasma, dust and neutral-gas environment during its journey.

"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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"And now, we've been able to make images farther from Earth than any spacecraft in history", Stern added. It is the fifth of five artificial objects to achieve the escape velocity that will allow them to leave the Solar System.

New Horizons is still on an active mission to visit the Kuiper Belt.

On January 19, 2006, New Horizons was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station by an Atlas V rocket directly into an Earth-and-solar escape trajectory with a speed of about 16.26 kilometers per second (58,536 km/h; 36,373 mph).

When you're traveling through 700,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) of space each day, nothing stands still.

The new false-color images show objects in the Kuiper Belt, a donut-shaped ring that surrounds our solar system and is likely full of comets, icy dwarf planets, and asteroids. This belt is home to three officially recognized dwarf planets- Pluto, Haumea and Makemake.

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