New Horizons Captures The Farthest Image Ever Taken From Earth

11 February, 2018, 05:01 | Author: Cecelia Webb
  • New Horizons Captures The Farthest Image Ever Taken From Earth

"And now, we've been able to make images farther from Earth than any spacecraft in history", Stern said. 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. The image of an icy rock in the Kuiper belt has had colour added to increase the contrast. That image, known as the "Pale Blue Dot", was taken from 3.75 billion miles (6 billion km) away.

NASA's New Horizon spacecraft recently taken record-breaking images in the Kuiper Belt. Now New Horizons has just broke its own record, delivering a new "farthest" milestone image.

"New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched", says New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. On January 1, 2019, the probe will fly by a small, frozen world in the Kuiper Belt called 2014 MU69, which orbits a billion miles beyond Pluto.

New Horizons was even farther from home than NASA's Voyager 1 when it captured the famous "Pale Blue Dot" image of Earth. New Horizons is one of only five shuttles which has managed to reach the escape velocity required to exit the solar system.

The spacecraft was launched in 2006.




Most of the time, New Horizons is sleeping - hibernating, to save energy. That was followed up with the shots of the Kuiper Belt two hours later. When that happens, it will break the record again.

A tiny NASA space probe which "slept" for nine years and has travelled 3.79 billion years to the edge of our solar system has made history this week. Then New Horizons started its journey towards Pluto, the dwarf planet. (Dwarf planet Pluto is a part of the belt, but it was not recognized as such until the discovery of other Kuiper objects in the early 2000s.) Pluto was estimated in 2015 to be the largest object in the belt, though there are other dwarf planets of note, such as Eris, Haumea and Makemake. But that will not be true when New Horizons wakes up in August.

On December 5, 2017, it broke a record set by Voyager 1 in 1990.

The Kuiper belt object flyby is "not almost as flashy as Pluto", Porter said, but "it's a really unique observation".

"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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