New Horizons' Recently Captured Image Breaks Voyager 1's 27-Year Record


NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has set a new record by capturing the farthest images from Earth by a spacecraft, surpassing the Voyager 1's record of capturing an image when it was 6.06 billion km away from Earth.

The image was captured by the New Horizons capsule from Pluto in July 2015 and reveals a much more diverse landscape than scientists have assumed.

Two hours later, New Horizons has already beaten his own record by making color photographs of two Kuiper Belt objects (2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85).

This image, taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft on December 5, 2017, shows the Kuiper Belt object 2012 HZ84. This image is, for now, one of the farthest pictures from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft.

New Horizons is now on its way to a KBO named 2014 MU69, with which it's expected to make a close encounter on Jan 1, 2019.

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NASA says Voyager 1's cameras were turned off after that, so its photography record has been unchallenged for more than 27 years.

But the New Horizons photos are a worthwhile reminder that as technology improves, and as NASA probes and crafts work their way deeper and deeper into space, there's going to be a wealth of interesting, engrossing, and handsome photos as a result.

At a distance of 3.79 billion miles from Earth, New Horizons recorded a picture of a star cluster this past December.

"Pale Blue Dot", which shows the Earth as a point of light in a sunbeam, was a precious record-holder for farthest photo captured from Earth. From here on out, every image it sends back will be the most distant image ever sent back. It is now about 41 times as far from Earth as Earth is from the sun.

In the course of its extended mission in the Kuiper Belt, the New Horizons team seeks to observe at least two-dozen other KBOs, dwarf planets and "Centaurs" - i.e. former KBOs that have unstable orbits that cause them to cross the orbit of the gas giants. The transmission rate for New Horizons is only about 2 kilobits per second. At present, the New Horizons spacecraft is in hibernation and will be brought back online on June 4th, - when it will begin a series of checks to make sure it is ready for its planned encounter with MU69. NASA says mission controllers will "bring the spacecraft out of its electronic slumber" this coming summer in anticipation of its next major close encounter, with an object known as 2014 MU69 on January 1, 2019. Now, it's zipping along at more than 700,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) each day - moving farther and farther out into our solar system.