- NASA’s New Horizons probe has captured the farthest images from Earth by a spacecraft, surpassing Voyager 1’s record of clicking a picture when it was 6.06 billion kilometres away from our planet.
- The routine calibration frame of the “Wishing Well” galactic open star cluster, made by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on December 5 last year, was taken when New Horizons was 6.12 billion kilometres from Earth, NASA has said.
- That picture was part of a composite of 60 images looking back at the solar system, on February 14, 1990, when Voyager was 6.06 billion kilometres from Earth.
- Voyager 1’s cameras were turned off shortly after that portrait, leaving its distance record unchallenged for more than 27 years.
- Kuiper Belt is a disc-shaped region beyond Neptune that extends from about 30 to 55 astronomical units from the Sun.
- New Horizons is the fifth spacecraft to speed beyond the outer planets and so many of its activities have set distance records, NASA has said.
- On December 9, it carried out the most-distant course- correction manoeuvre ever, as the mission team guided the spacecraft towards a close encounter with a Kuiper Belt objects (KBO) named 2014 MU69 on January 1, 2019.
- 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, according to NASA.