Sci-tech

NASA's New Horizons snaps farthest images by any spacecraft

NASA's New Horizons snaps farthest images by any spacecraft

MU69 will be the most distant world ever explored. The machine that took these photos was farther from Earth than any other functioning camera in existence.

Hence, the images captured by it became the farthest images taken from earth by a spacecraft. It was a fleeting record, because 2 hours later, the two KBOs were imaged.

"New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched", says New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. Now New Horizons has just broke its own record, delivering a new "farthest" milestone image. Astronomer Carl Sagan, who pitched the photo concept, famously remarked: "Look again at that dot". NASA turned on Voyager's backup thrusters in 2017 after almost 40 years of disuse.

With these pictures, New Horizons breaks a record of 27 years established by the NASA Voyager 1 probe when it captured the famous Earth photograph, Pale Blue Dot, at 6,0 60 million kilometers.

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Launched in 2006, the New Horizons mission stayed true to its name. There, it changed the way we view the dwarf planet. To get there, New Horizons is trucking: It travels more than 700,000 miles (1.1 million km) a day. The red line marks the path of the New Horizons spacecraft.

It was most recently active between September and December 2017. At the time, they broke distance records. Then, the spacecraft broke its own record again two hours later, when it took photos of two objects in the Kuiper Belt, the large cloud of icy objects at the edge of the Solar System that New Horizons is now traversing. Both are floating in the Kuiper Belt, an area on the edge of our solar system that NASA's spacecraft is now exploring. Next to nothing is known about the micro-surfaces of objects like these, Porter said. It consists of many small celestial bodies from the time when the Solar system was formed. It is similar to the Asteroid Belt, but it is far larger.

The hazy pictures above may not look like much, but they're the farthest images a manmade spacecraft has ever made from Earth. Stern is the principal investigator of New Horizons mission. "This post-Pluto mission is a complete and comprehensive exploration of the Kuiper Belt", said Alice Bowman, New Horizons mission operations manager, also from APL.

On Earth, NASA's Deep Space Network antenna dishes catch the faint signals coming from New Horizons and reassemble the raw data into a usable form.


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