Home > astronomy > New Horizons probe sends home images from greatest ever distance

New Horizons probe sends home images from greatest ever distance

 

Kuiper Belt objects - New Horizons, Dec. 2017

These false-color images, obtained by New Horizons in December 2017, show two Kuiper Belt Objects: 2012 HZ84 (left) and 2012 HE85. These photographs are the most distant ever obtained by a spacecraft. They are also the closest any camera has ever come to celestial objects in the Kuiper Belt. Image courtesy NASA, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and Southwest Research Institute.

NASA’s New Horizons probe, which electrified astronomers and other space enthusiasts with its 2015 fly-by of dwarf planet Pluto, has now set a record for the most distant photographs ever obtained by a human spacecraft.

On Dec. 5 the probe snapped an image of the Wishing Well galactic open star cluster. New Horizons was then 6.12 billion kilometers from Earth.

That beat the previous photography transmission record set in 1990 by Voyager 1 when it was about 6.06 billion kilometers from our home planet.

But the little probe that can was not yet finished.

Two hours after sending home the Wishing Well imagery, New Horizons obtained and transmitted photographs of Kuiper Belt objects 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85.

All of the December 2017 photographs were captured via the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager, an 8.8 kilogram-sized digital camera-type device equipped with a telescope lens and reinforced to function in the cold of space.

New Horizons visited Pluto in 2015. During that historic rendezvous, the spacecraft approached to within 13,000 kilometers of the dwarf planet.

The probe has been in hibernation mode since Dec. 21, 2017.

 

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