Friday , September 21 2018

NASA’s New Horizons Spacecraft Captures Record-Breaking Images

With its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI), New Horizons has observed several objects in the Kuiper Belt, a distant region of icy debris that extends far beyond the orbit of Neptune. The false-color images of two of the observed objects — 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85 — are the farthest from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft.

This image, taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on December 5, 2017, shows the Kuiper Belt object 2012 HZ84. Image credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI.

This image, taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft on December 5, 2017, shows the Kuiper Belt object 2012 HZ84. Image credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI.

On December 5, 2017 New Horizons turned its telescopic camera toward a field of stars, snapped an image — and made history.

The routine calibration frame of the ‘Wishing Well’ open star cluster was taken when the spacecraft was 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion km) from Earth — making it, for a time, the farthest image ever made from our planet.

This image, taken by New Horizons on December 5, 2017, shows the ‘Wishing Well’ Galactic open star cluster. Image credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI.

This image, taken by New Horizons on December 5, 2017, shows the ‘Wishing Well’ Galactic open star cluster. Image credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI.

The space probe was even farther from home than NASA’s Voyager 1 when it captured the famous ‘Pale Blue Dot’ image of Earth.

Voyager 1’s cameras were turned off shortly after that portrait, leaving its distance record unchallenged for more than 27 years.

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. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech.

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. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech.

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.

This image, taken by New Horizons on December 5, 2017, shows the Kuiper Belt object 2012 HE85. Image credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI.

This image, taken by New Horizons on December 5, 2017, shows the Kuiper Belt object 2012 HE85. Image credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI.

New Horizons is just the fifth spacecraft to speed beyond the outer planets, so many of its activities set distance records.

On December 9, 2017, it carried out the most-distant course-correction maneuver ever, as the mission team guided the spacecraft toward a close encounter with a Kuiper Belt object named 2014 MU69 on January 1, 2019.

That flight past 2014 MU69 will be the farthest planetary encounter in history, happening one billion miles beyond the Pluto system.

Artist’s impression of New Horizons encountering a Pluto-like object in the distant Kuiper Belt. Image credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI / Alex Parker.

Artist’s impression of New Horizons encountering a Pluto-like object in the distant Kuiper Belt. Image credit: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI / Alex Parker.

According to NASA, New Horizons is healthy and is currently in hibernation.

Mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, will bring the spacecraft out of its electronic slumber on June 4, 2018, and begin a series of system checkouts and other activities to prepare New Horizons for the close encounter with 2014 MU69.

About Skype

Check Also

SpaceX Says It Will Fly a Passenger Around the Moon in BFR Vehicle

SpaceX started talking about a crewed moon mission last year, and as usual, it claimed …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *