Friday, 17 August, 2018

NASA Probe Captures Farthest Images Taken Away From Earth

NASA Probe Captures Farthest Images Taken Away From Earth NASA's New Horizons breaks record by taking the Most Distant Pictures Ever
Olivia Ford | 11 February, 2018, 05:33

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 routine calibration frame of the "Wishing Well" galactic open star cluster, made by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on December 5 a year ago, was taken when New Horizons was 6.12 billion kilometres from Earth, NASA said.

The Pale Blue Dot images were taken at a distance of 3.75 billion miles (6.06 billion kilometers), and show Earth itself as a mere speck amid space.

Voyager 1's cameras were turned off shortly after that portrait, leaving its distance record unchallenged for more than 27 years. Two hours later, the probe broke its own record by taking a picture of the Kuiper belt.

The probe is powered by a Star Trek-style ion drive and is journeying into the icy Kuiper Belt, one of the last truly unknown parts of our solar system. About two hours later, New Horizons later broke the record again.

These December 2017 false-color images of KBOs 2012 HZ84 (left) and 2012 HE85 are, for now, the farthest from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft.

Shortly after midnight Eastern Time on January 1, 2019 - NASA's New Horizons spacecraft will buzz by the most primitive and most distant object ever explored. "Mission scientists study the images to determine the objects' shapes and surface properties, and to check for moons and rings", says NASA.

New Horizons is sleeping now, resting up for its next big adventure. The spacecraft is also making nearly continuous measurements of the plasma, dust and neutral-gas environment during its journey. The transmission rate for New Horizons is only about 2 kilobits per second. As of this writing, it's the farthest image ever made from Earth.

New Horizons is the probe that flew by Pluto on July 14, 2015, and beamed back those fantastic pictures. New Horizons is one of only five shuttles which has managed to reach the escape velocity required to exit the solar system.

But now, New Horizons mission is yet to finish as it travels at a speed of 1.1m km a day to reach its final objective: the observation of objects in the Kuiper-Edgeworth Belt which got underway previous year. "This post-Pluto mission is a complete and comprehensive exploration of the Kuiper Belt", said Alice Bowman, New Horizons mission operations manager, also from APL.

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