This record-breaking photo was taken from 6 billion km away

Casey Dawson
February 10, 2018

In fact, New Horizons broke the record twice in quick succession, first snapping a shot of a group of distant stars called the Wishing Well, around 1,300 light-years away from our planet.

While we continue to bask in the afterglow of Elon Musk's historic Falcon Heavy SpaceX launch, it's easy to forget that NASA makes history virtually every day with innovations and milestones that continue to shape the future of the aerospace industry.

These photos were captured in December by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on board New Horizons, and were shot just before it went back into hibernation. "LORRI broke its own record just two hours later with images of Kuiper Belt objects 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85-further demonstrating how nothing stands still when you're covering more than 700,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) of space each day", says NASA.

During its extended mission in the Kuiper Belt, which began in 2017, New Horizons is hoping to observe at least two-dozen other KBOs, dwarf planets and "Centaurs" - former KBOs in unstable orbits that cross the orbits of the giant planets.

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According to the principal investigator of the mission, Alan Stern, New Horizons has been a first-run operation: first exploring Pluto is also the first to track the Kuiper Belt, and-in addition-the fastest spacecraft ever launched. In February 1990, Voyager 1 was exiting our solar system when it snapped the iconic "Pale Blue Dot" photo - a picture of Earth from over 6.06 billion kilometers away.

The New Horizons probe took an image which is the furthest ever created from Earth, beating a record set by NASA's Voyager probe.

New Horizons is sleeping now, resting up for its next big adventure. During its travels, New Horizons alternates between periods of activity and dormancy to conserve fuel. 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. In the first week of December, it passed the Pale Blue Dot's record distance.

With diameters of a hundred kilometers or so, the two Kuiper belt objects are not large enough to classify as dwarf planets. Next to nothing is known about the micro-surfaces of objects like these, Porter said. As of this writing, it's the farthest image ever made from Earth. But that will not be true when New Horizons wakes up in August.

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