New Horizons' Recently Captured Image Breaks Voyager 1's 27-Year Record

Violet Powell
February 15, 2018

New Horizons was about 3.79 billion miles (~6.12B km) from Earth when the photos were shot.

That image was made at a vantage point of 3.75 billion miles from Earth.

This image, taken by New Horizons on December 5, 2017, shows the "Wishing Well" Galactic open star cluster.

Prior to New Horizons' star shot, the image taken farthest from Earth was one of the Blue Marble snapped by the Voyager 1 spacecraft on February 14, 1990.

The NASA spacecraft that gave us close-ups of Pluto has set a record for the farthest photos ever taken.

Mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, will bring the spacecraft out of its electronic slumber on June 4, 2018, and begin a series of system checkouts and other activities to prepare New Horizons for the close encounter with 2014 MU69.

False-color images of KBOs 2012 HZ84 (left) and 2012 HE85, taken by LORRI, are the farthest from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft.

Voyager 1's cameras were turned off shortly after that portrait, leaving its distance record unchallenged for more than 27 years. However, an image captured by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft just smashed Voyager 1's achievement.

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"New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched", says principal investigator Alan Stern, a planetary scientist the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, in the release. During its voyage to the outer reaches of the solar system, the spacecraft usually stays in hibernation mode to conserve energy. That shot - which was, in fact, part of a composite of 60 images - came to be known as the "Pale Blue Dot," famously for depicting Earth as "a mote of dust suspended on a sunbeam".

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

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is now one of the most distant human-made objects, and it just took the most distant photograph ever.

The piano-sized probe then turned to the Kuiper Belt.

Getting the images to Earth is no easy task.

MU69 will be the most distant world ever explored.

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. So long as the mission goes according to plan, New Horizons could hold on to its lead for a long time.

New Horizons is now traveling about 700,000 miles (1.1M km) every single day.

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