NASA space probe takes 'furthest ever' photo from Earth

Enlarge Image New Horizons captured this record-breaking image of the Wishing Well star cluster in December.                  NASA  JHUAPL  SwRI

Nasa's New Horizons spacecraft has made history by capturing the "farthest image ever" from Earth. 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.

According to Nasa, New Horizons' record-breaking image was captured when it was even farther away from Earth than Nasa's Voyager 1 when it captured the infamous "Pale Blue Dot" photo of Earth.

Soon after the Pale Blue Dot picture was taken, the cameras were turned off on Voyager 1, leaving its record unchallenged for the next 27 years. It finished its primary mission with the Pluto flyby in 2015 and is now on an extended mission to explore the Kuiper Belt, helping the USA to complete its reconnaissance of our solar system.

The new image snapped by New Horizons was released by NASA on Thursday, February 8.

While some of the images we snap of the cosmos are stunning enough to look like artwork, sometimes the least interesting images are just as impressive for the effort it took to take it.

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

New Horizons is an interplanetary space probe that was launched as a part of NASA's New Frontiers program.[2] Engineered by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) and the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), with a team led by S. Alan Stern, [3] the spacecraft was launched in 2006 with the primary mission to perform a flyby study of the Pluto system in 2015, and a secondary mission to fly by and study one or more other Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) in the decade to follow. During its voyage to the outer reaches of the solar system, the spacecraft usually stays in hibernation mode to conserve energy.

New Horizons broke its own record by taking the image of the two KBOs shown above. (Pluto is one of these dwarf planets.) 2014 MU69 is almost a billion miles beyond Pluto, which itself is 4.67 billion miles (7.5 billion km) beyond Earth.

Most of the time, New Horizons is sleeping - hibernating, to save energy. To get there, New Horizons is trucking: It travels more than 700,000 miles (1.1 million km) a day. "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.

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