Tuesday, 21 August, 2018

Nasa spacecraft takes farthest ever image from Earth

For a short time this New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager frame of the View Slideshow
Derrick Tucker | 14 February, 2018, 19:14

Given that the New Horizons is still making its way through the solar system, it's entirely possible there will be more incredibly distant images in the weeks and months to come.

"New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched", says New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern. According to a NASA press release, two hours later, it snapped images of KBOs 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85, setting yet another record. 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.

Compare that achievement to Voyager 1, which was 3.75 billion miles (6.06 billion kilometers) from Earth when it took the famous "Pale Blue Dot" image of our home world on February 14, 1990.

Until now, the photo was taken farther away from Earth than any image ever, a record that stood for more than 27 years.

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. The transmission rate for New Horizons is only about 2 kilobits per second.

This image (shown above) was rather significant, given that this star cluster was the first target ever observed by the Hubble Space Telescope (on May 20th, 1990). Though the process was routine, the simple image officially broke Voyager 1's record. 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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NASA has published a pair of record-breaking photos. As Stephanie Pappas at LiveScience reports, after snapping an image and storing it on its hard drive, New Horizons sends its data back on an antenna that transmits at only 12 watts, moving data at a snail's pace-only two kilobits per second.

Now, it's reportedly snapped the farthest photo from Earth that's ever been taken.

NASA program director Alan Stern said: "New Horizons has always been a first-time mission, the first to explore Pluto, the first to explore the Camping Zone and the fastest spacecraft ever launched".

The picture shown above, a false-colour image of a Kuiper Belt object with the designation 2012 HZ84, is the most distant photo from Earth ever taken by a spacecraft.

To date, New Horizons is the fifth spacecraft to venture beyond the outer planets. These include the most-distant course-correction maneuver, which took place on December 9th, 2017, and guided the spacecraft towards its planned flyby with the KBO 2014 MU69. It will be the farthest planetary encounter in history. Two Pioneer probes-Pioneer 10 and 11-have also traveled farther away than New Horizons, but NASA lost contact with them years ago.

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