These Photographs Had been Captured Almost three.Eight Billion Miles From Earth

These Photographs Had been Captured Almost three.Eight Billion Miles From Earth

For a couple of hours, this New Horizons image of the so-called Wishing Well star cluster, snapped on December 5, 2017, was the farthest image ever captured by a spacecraft. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech.

NASA said in a statement that New Horizons snapped a picture of a group of stars known as the "Wishing Well" when the spacecraft was about 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers) from Earth. This it slightly farther than the "Pale Blue Dot" image of Earth, which was snapped by the Voyager 1 mission when it was at a distance of 6.06 billion km (3.75 billion mi; 40.5 AU) from Earth.

Voyager 1's cameras were turned off shortly after that portrait, leaving its distance record unchallenged for more than 27 years.

The latter shows a look at Kuiper Belt objects HZ84 and 2012 HE85.

This leaves the exploration up to New Horizons. This consisted of snapping pictures of the "Wishing Well" cluster (aka. the "Football Cluster" or NGC 3532), an open galactic star cluster that is located about 1321 light years from Earth in the direction of the southern constellation of Carina.

At first glance the images are unremarkable. Considering that was an image of our own planet taken from afar, it figures that it'd probably remain the more popular and iconic of the two―humanity can be self-centered, after all, and the Kuiper Belt is remote. As part of the probes mission to rendezvous with a KBO, the team was searching for forward-scattering rings or dust.

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The last time they did this was 5 December, when New Horizons took a routine calibration image of a cluster of stars, breaking a record for the most distant photograph ever taken.

MU69 will be the most distant world ever explored.

According to reports, the craft achieved the major milestone while drifting farther and farther through the outer boundaries of the solar system late past year.

"New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched", Alan Stern, the mission's principal investigator, said in the NASA statement.

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.

In so doing, they also broke a record that had stood untouched since 1990, when the Voyager 1 spacecraft sent back a final glimpse of Earth before its cameras went dark.

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