NASA’s New Horizons might have captured the most distant image from Earth ever taken, at a staggering 3.79 billion miles away.
Yesterday NASA released a set of images captured by New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager on Dec. 5 of last year. At the time the probe was 3.79 billion miles from Earth.
The image might not be the most spectacular snapped, but the spacecraft is making history with this one.
According to NASA, the remarkable false-color images are also the closest-ever images captured of objects in the Kuiper Belt.
“New Horizons has long been a mission of firsts — first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched. And now we’ve been able to make images farther from Earth than any spacecraft in history,” mission principal investigator Alan Stern, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute, said yesterday in a news release.
One of LORRI’s pictures shows the “Wishing Well” star cluster. The cluster is a scattering of points of light that New Horizons could use for camera calibration purposes. The probe, at that time, was farther into space than even NASA’s Voyager 1 had been when it captured its famous ‘Pale Blue Dot’ image of Earth, the space agency says.
At the time, New Horizons was 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers) from Earth. Voyager, by comparison, was 3.75 billion miles (6.06 billion kilometers) from Earth when it captured its famous photo in 1990.
This image, taken on Dec. 5, 2017, shows the “Wishing Well” star cluster. Credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI Photo
The New Horizons spacecraft is currently hibernating and in good condition. It will wake up again on June 4 in preparation for a flyby of Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 in mid-2019. This will be the most remote flyby in the history of robotic space exploration.
Thumbnail image: False-color images of KBOs 2012 HZ84, taken by the New Horizons spacecraft