NASA's New Horizons spacecraft broke yet another record by capturing the most distant images from Earth, photographing an open star cluster along with several dwarf planets, Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) and centaurs with its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI). "And now, we've been able to make images farther from Earth than any spacecraft in history".
The piano-sized probe then turned to the Kuiper Belt.
That picture was part of a composite of 60 images looking back at the solar system, on February 14th, 1990, when Voyager was 3.75 billion miles (6.06 billion kilometers, or about 40.5 astronomical units [AU]) from Earth.
Interplanetary station, New Horizons has established a record, having received images of celestial bodies with the maximum available distance from the Earth to date.
At a distance of 3.79 billion miles from Earth, New Horizons recorded a picture of a star cluster this past December. 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.
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 attractive photos as a result. Mission scientists study the images to determine the objects' shapes and surface properties, and to check for moons and rings.
In the middle of this year will start a monitoring campaign, the details of which we wrote earlier, and while New Horizons is in hibernation mode, which will last until June of this year.
The New Horizons spacecraft is healthy and is now in hibernation.
Launched in 2006, the spacecraft made headlines in 2015 when its flyby of Pluto sent back vivid, high-definition images of the cold, icy dwarf planet that used to be but a smudge on telescopes. 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. Especially interested in the outer solar system, Laurel gave a brief presentation at the 2008 Great Planet Debate held at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, MD.