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New Horizons' Recently Captured Image Breaks Voyager 1's 27-Year Record
14 February 2018, 07:15 | Clyde Nash
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft captured these images at a distance of 3.79 billion miles from Earth - the farthest from our planet an image has ever been made.
After making the first ever fly-by of Pluto, the New Horizons spacecraft is getting ready for an encore.
The image, which to the naked eye just looks like an eery green glow in between some cloud looking things, is actually something much cooler.
New Horizons has observed several Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) and dwarf planets at unique phase angles, as well as Centaurs at extremely high phase angles to search for forward-scattering rings or dust.
"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. "And now, we've been able to make images farther from Earth than any spacecraft in history". The mission will put New Horizons one billion miles beyond the Pluto system, which it explored back in 2015.
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. This means that images taken at this point are at a distance of 40.9 Astronomical Units (AUs), or the equivalent of about 41 times the distance between Earth and the Sun.
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This color image of the Earth, dubbed Pale Blue Dot, is a part of the first ever "family portrait" of our Solar System taken by Voyager 1.
New Horizons broke its own record just two hours later with images of two Kuiper Belt objects - 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85 - further demonstrating how nothing stands still when you're covering more than 700,000 miles (1.1 million km) of space each day.
According to NASA, New Horizons is now the fifth spacecraft to fly beyond the outer planets of our solar system.
Voyager, by comparison, was 3.75 billion miles (6.06 billion kilometers) from Earth when it captured its famous photo in 1990.
This image, taken by New Horizons on December 5, 2017, shows the "Wishing Well" Galactic open star cluster. Two Pioneer probes-Pioneer 10 and 11-have also traveled farther away than New Horizons, but NASA lost contact with them years ago. It is due to pass by an object there known as 2014 MU69 at the beginning of 2019. NASA says mission controllers will "bring the spacecraft out of its electronic slumber" this coming summer as preparation for its next major flyby.
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A further shot adrift are the likes of four-time champion Phil Mickelson , Spaniard Jon Rahm and Australian Jason Day . And I've got great partners, and it makes for a fun, special day, and this tournament is very unique.