The most distant photo ever taken

Lena Tucker
February 14, 2018

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.

The Nasa spacecraft that made close-ups of Pluto has set a record for the farthest photos ever taken. New Horizons was about 3.79 billion miles (~6.12B km) from Earth when the photos were shot. They're also the closest-ever images of Kuiper Belt objects.

On December 5th, 2017, New Horizons turned its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) to the galactic open star cluster known as the "Wishing Well" and took a shot.

Compare that achievement to Voyager 1, which was 3.75 billion miles (6.06 billion kilometers) from Earth when it took the famous "Pale Blue Dot" image of our home world on February 14, 1990. Voyager 1 shut off its camera the same year it captured the "Pale Blue Dot" image and Voyager 2 shut down its cameras after imaging Neptune in 1989.

New Horizons covers more than 1.1 million km of space each day (KBO).

Since that time, New Horizons has carried on to the Kuiper Belt for the sake of conducting more historic encounters.

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is making history again, this time one-upping the legendary Voyager 1.

The mission also broke a record that has been stagnant since 1990, when the Voyager 1 spacecraft sent back a final capture of Earth before the cameras on the craft were lost. From here on out, every image it sends back will be the most distant image ever sent back.

"Mission scientists study the images to determine the objects' shapes and surface properties, and to check for moons and rings".

The New Horizons broke a 28-year-old record held by the Voyager 1. "The spacecraft also is making almost continuous measurements of the plasma, dust and neutral-gas environment along its path".

NASA program director Alan Stern said: "New Horizons has always been a first-time mission, the first to explore Pluto, the first to explore the Camping Zone and the fastest spacecraft ever launched". The spacecraft is slated to swing by another Kuiper Belt object (2014 MU69) on January 1st, 2019 and record more imagery in the process. It will be the farthest planetary encounter in history.

The probe then turned its attention to the distant Kuiper Belt.

In the course of its extended mission in the Kuiper Belt, the New Horizons team seeks to observe at least two-dozen other KBOs, dwarf planets and "Centaurs" - i.e. former KBOs that have unstable orbits that cause them to cross the orbit of the gas giants.

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