Record-breaking photos from the far reaches of space

Such is the case with its New Horizons spacecraft, which made history by turning its telescopic camera toward a field of stars on December 5 when it snapped a photograph of the "Wishing Well" galactic star cluster 3.79 billion miles away from Earth.

Those snapshots of the December 2012 KBO 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85 are so far the furthest ever captured by a spacecraft, and the closest to any body of Kuiper, the agency stressed in a statement.

For a brief period of time, this New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) frame of the "Wishing Well" star cluster, was the farthest image ever made by a spacecraft, breaking a 27-year record set by Voyager 1.

Talking about the new milestone images is New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, who said, "New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched".

In taking these images, New Horizon broke a record that had stood for almost three decades.

Along the way, New Horizons broke the record for the farthest image captured away from our home planet. It's headed toward an even closer encounter with another icy world, 1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometres ) beyond Pluto, on January 1, 2019.

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New Horizons is still on an active mission to visit the Kuiper Belt. After New Horizons launched in 2006, it flung itself around Jupiter in 2007 to get a boost toward Pluto, where it arrived in summer 2015.

New Horizons is the probe that flew by Pluto on July 14, 2015, and beamed back those unbelievable pictures.

NASA published a pair of images taken by the New Horizons spacecraft, and they're not much to look at.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - The NASA spacecraft that gave us close-ups of Pluto has set a record for the farthest photos ever taken. New Horizons' encounter with Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69, which orbits a billion miles beyond Pluto, will offer the first close-up look at such a pristine building block of the solar system - and will be performed in a region of deep space that was practically unknown just a generation ago. The transmission rate for New Horizons is only about 2 kilobits per second. When that happens, it will break the record again.

New Horizons is slated to observe at least two dozen other objects in the Kuiper Belt, including dwarf planets and asteroid-like masses called Centaurs.

"That tells us this object is going to have a lot of surprises in store for New Horizons", said Marc Buie, the New Horizons science team member from SwRI who led the observation campaign.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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