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

14 February, 2018, 19:14 | Author: Rolando Keller
  • For a short time this New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager frame of the

As a result, just two hours after it had taken the record-breaking image of the "Wishing Well" star cluster, the probe snapped pictures of the Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) known as 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85 (seen below, left and right). The subjects include the "Wishing Well" star cluster as well as two large objects in the Kuiper Belt which have never been observed from such a distance before.

"New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched", Alan Stern, the mission's principal investigator, said in the NASA statement. At a distance of 3.79 billion miles, or 40.9 astronomical units from our cosmic home, the image took the crown from Voyager 1's "Pale Blue Dot" as the image taken farthest from Earth. They're also the closest-ever images of Kuiper Belt objects. That spacecraft is New Horizons, a NASA starship that zipped past Pluto in 2015 and is scheduled to fly by an object in the icy Kuiper Belt at the outer reaches of the solar system in January 2019. And now it can also capture images farther from the Earth than any other spaceship in history ...

On December 5, New Horizons captured an image said to be the farthest from Earth ever taken, at a staggering 3.79 billion miles away. That shot - which was, in fact, part of a composite of 60 images - came to be known as the "Pale Blue Dot", famously for depicting Earth as "a mote of dust suspended on a sunbeam".

For now, though, New Horizons is now enjoying some well-deserved hibernation as it hurtles away from us at a rate of roughly 700,000 miles a day.

"New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched", Alan Stern, New Horizons Principal Investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, said in a statement.

New Horizons is just the fifth spacecraft to speed beyond the outer planets, so many of its activities set distance records.

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"Those are the farthest out images ever taken", says Dr. Andy Cheng, with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel.

Voyager 1's record remained unchallenged for almost three decades after NASA turned off its cameras shortly after taking the legendary shot.

The New Horizons broke a 28-year-old record held by the Voyager 1. At the time of shooting the space station was at a distance of 6.12 billion kilometers from Earth.

New Horizons continues to exceed expectations in its space wanderings.

The piano-sized probe then turned to the Kuiper Belt.

However, in December of 2017, the New Horizons team began conducting a routine calibration test of the LORRI instrument.



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