New Horizons, a spacecraft sent by NASA in 2006 and the first aircraft to fly around Pluto, has just made history again. As it gets closer and closer to the confines of our solar system, the spacecraft has just taken one last shot of a cluster of stars, which is the most distant image ever taken from planet. The previous record was kept by Voyager-1, who managed to take the photo a few seconds before the camera went off for good on February 14, 1990.
Voyager-1 held up its record-breaking record for nearly 27 years, until December 5, 2017, when New Horizons took a photo at 6,099,413,760 km from Earth. Two hours later, the probe broke its own record by taking a picture of the Kuiper belt. It is heading for a small frozen object behind Pluto, which NASA soberly named 2014 MU69, which it is expected to reach in early January 2019. By then, it will have time to beat again and again it own record of farthest image ever taken from earth.
The probe then followed that up with pictures of two objects floating in the Kuiper Belt, 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85. The neon green and blue images were snapped in false-color to make the objects more distinguishable to the human eye.
“That New Year’s flight past MU69 will be the farthest planetary encounter in history, happening one billion miles beyond the Pluto system – which New Horizons famously explored in July 2015,” said NASA.
Scientists are eager to find out what New Horizons makes of MU69. There are someand may even consist of two separate bodies.
The probe is currently in hibernation as it continues to fly farther and farther away from its home planet. Even though it’s napping, NASA says New Horizons still covers over 700,000 miles (1.1 million kilometers) of space each day. That’s quite a journey.