Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
Research | By Jennifer Evans

NASA's New Horizons breaks record by taking the Most Distant Pictures Ever

NASA's New Horizons breaks record by taking the Most Distant Pictures Ever

New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) broke its own record just two hours later with images of Kuiper Belt objects 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85 - further demonstrating how nothing stands still when you're covering more than 700,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) of space each day. It plans to observe around two dozen objects in the belt, including dwarf planets and "Centaurs"-objects with unstable orbits that cross the orbits of the solar system's giant planets".

The new record-breaking photos show two Kuiper Belt objects, 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85.

On December 5, the spacecraft turned on its telescopic camera and caputered the photograph of a cluster of stars known as "Wishing Well".

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

That was the farthest-from-Earth image that had ever been taken by a spacecraft, breaking the last "farthest" record set by Voyager 1 about 27 years ago.

FILE - This image made available by NASA on Friday, July 24, 2015 shows a combination of images captured by the New Horizons spacecraft with enhanced colors to show differences in the composition and texture of Pluto's surface.

"And now, we've been able to make images farther from Earth than any spacecraft in history", Stern said. It performed an unprecedented flyby study of the Pluto system in 2015, offering a dramatic view of the dwarf planet and its satellites.

So how does New Horizons send back images, even blurry ones, through all that space?

Flight controllers at a Johns Hopkins University lab in Laurel, Maryland, will awaken the spacecraft in June and begin preparing it for the flyby.

In fact, New Horizons broke the record twice in quick succession, first snapping a shot of a group of distant stars called the Wishing Well, around 1,300 light-years away from our planet. Needless to say, the signal strength is low - the antenna transmits at a power of 12 watts and receives signals at 1 million billionth of a watt - so the data transmission rate is painfully slow.

We'll know for sure when New Horizons gets close, and thankfully its cameras will stay powered on for a while.

The record was previously held by NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft, which snapped the image data for the famous "Pale Blue Dot" image on February 14, 1990.

New Horizons took more photos as it sped deeper into the cosmos in December. But that will not be true when New Horizons wakes up in August.

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