NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is now one of the most distant human-made objects, and it just took the most distant photograph ever.
Now, it's reportedly snapped the farthest photo from Earth that's ever been taken.
NASA says there are plans for New Horizons to make flyby investigations of some two dozen objects, like "dwarf planets and 'Centaurs, ' former [Kuiper Belt objects] in unstable orbits that cross the orbits of the giant planets".
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"And now, we've been able to make images farther from Earth than any spacecraft in history", Stern said.
But New Horizons is the first to send back a picture for so far afield.
Until now, the photo was taken farther away from Earth than any image ever, a record that stood for more than 27 years. 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. The subjects include the "Wishing Well" star cluster as well as two large objects in the Kuiper Belt which have never been observed from such a distance before.
About two hours later, New Horizons later broke the record again with images of Kuiper Belt objects 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85.
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"Those are the farthest out images ever taken", says Dr. Andy Cheng, with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel.
At the time, New Horizons was 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers) from Earth.
New Horizons is just the fifth spacecraft that goes through the heights of our solar system and opens itself into the real vast universe.
To date, New Horizons is the fifth spacecraft to venture beyond the outer planets. The Kuiper Belt is a disc-shaped expanse past the orbit of Neptune, about 2.7 billion to 9.3 billion miles (4.4 billion to 14.9 billion km) from the sun, that contains thousands of icy objects, comets and dwarf planets. NASA scientists are also using the New Horizons craft to analyze plasma, dust, and gas in the region.
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The New Horizons broke a 28-year-old record held by the Voyager 1. It will be the farthest planetary encounter in history. These efforts could reveal much about the formation and evolution of the Solar System, and are setting records that are not likely to be broken for many more decades!