Two hours later, LORRI looked at two objects in the Kuiper Belt, the ring of icy objects that New Horizons has been traveling through in the wake of its Pluto encounter. It imaged the Wishing Well at 3.79 billion miles away, beating the Blue Dot photo shoot by 40 million miles.
NASA's New Horizonsspacecraft released photos taken from the greatest distance from Earth ever, the agency announced Thursday.
But now, New Horizons mission is yet to finish as it travels at a speed of 1.1m km a day to reach its final objective: the observation of objects in the Kuiper-Edgeworth Belt which got underway previous year.
NASA has released a record-breaking photograph taken by the New Horizons spacecraft when it was 3.79 billion miles away from the Earth.
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. Specifically, New Horizons is targeting 2014 MU69, a mysterious object (or pair of two objects) which Alan Stern, mission principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), has called "provocative" and a "scientific bonanza". Not only is the image at the top of this article the farthest ever made from Earth, but is the closest we've ever seen of Kuiper Belt objects. Then New Horizons started its journey towards Pluto, the dwarf planet.
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In 1994, USA astronomer Carl Sagan reflected on the significance of the photograph to an audience at Cornell University, famously coining its name as the Pale Blue Dot, and giving one of the most widely published speeches of all time. Now, the shuttle is currently on its way to study one or more other Kuiper belt objects. Next to nothing is known about the micro-surfaces of objects like these, Porter said. In the meantime, we'll always have 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85.
The Kuiper belt is a vast expanse of rocks, ice clumps, comets and dwarf planets beyond Neptune.
The Kuiper Belt is similar to the asteroid belt but is far larger: 20 times as wide and 20 to 200 times as massive.
The hazy pictures above may not look like much, but they're the farthest images a manmade spacecraft has ever made from Earth. A Pluto-style flyby is scheduled for January 1, 2019.
New Horizons is reportedly healthy and everything is functioning as planned.