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This record-breaking photo was taken from 6 billion km away
15 February 2018, 06:19 | Katrina Lee
In December - while 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers) from Earth - the New Horizons spacecraft snapped a picture of a star cluster.
That image was made at a vantage point of 3.75 billion miles from Earth.
With its innovative imaging technology (Long Range Reconnaissance Imager), New Horizons immortalized several space objects, as well as some other dwarf planets in the Kupier Belt. "And now, we've been able to make images farther from Earth than any spacecraft in history".
For the two record-breaking Kuiper Belt object images, it took about 4 hours to transmit each image and 6 hours for the data to travel to Earth, Alan Stern, the principal investigator on the New Horizons mission, told Live Science.
According to reports, the craft achieved the major milestone while drifting farther and farther through the outer boundaries of the solar system late a year ago.
For the past 27 years, Voyager 1 has been the record holder for the farthest captured image in history.
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"New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched", Alan Stern, the mission's principal investigator, said in the NASAstatement. "It is possible for the cameras to be turned on, but it is not a priority for Voyager's Interstellar Mission", according to NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory's website.
Anyone who's passionate about astronomy and outer space knows that few things can compare to the grandeur and beauty of deep space photography, and on that front, NASA'sNew Horizons spacecraft is doing great work. While this image broke the long-distance record established by Voyager 1, the probe then turned its LORRI instrument towards objects in its flight path.
According to NASA, New Horizons is healthy and is now in hibernation.
Getting the images to Earth is no easy task. Just 2 hours before, the spacecraft had officially claimed the title of spaciest photographer by capturing a camera-calibration shot of a far-off star cluster known as the Wishing Well. In the process, it sent back of the distant world, which for decades had appeared as little more than a smudge to even the most advanced telescopes on Earth.
New Horizons is now on its way to a KBO named 2014 MU69, with which it's expected to make a close encounter on Jan 1, 2019.
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