Using Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) technology, New Horizons was able to photograph several objects in the Kuiper Belt, as well as some dwarf planets. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech. At a distance of 3.79 billion miles, or 40.9 astronomical units from our cosmic home, the image took the crown from Voyager 1's "Pale Blue Dot" as the image taken farthest from Earth.
And, just hours later, it beat its own record.
Voyager 1's record remained unchallenged for almost three decades after NASA turned off its cameras shortly after taking the legendary shot.
This historic picture was taken on February 14th, 1990 (Valentine's Day) at the behest of famed astronomer Carl Sagan.
The Kuiper Belt is a ring of objects between Neptune and the edge of the solar system full of dwarf planets, hundreds of thousands of icy rocks and comets. For more than 27 years, this long-distance record remained unchallenged.
"The Voyagers and Pioneers flew through the Kuiper Belt at a time when we didn't know this region existed", says Jim Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, in another press release. On Dec. 5, the probe's cameras pointed toward the "Wishing Well' star cluster and snapped a photo".
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.
About two hours later, New Horizons later broke the record again with images of Kuiper Belt objects 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85. But they're arguably among the most unbelievable photographic images ever.
The image was captured by the New Horizons capsule from Pluto in July 2015 and reveals a much more diverse landscape than scientists have assumed. These December 2017 false-color images of KBOs 2012 HZ84 (left) and 2012 HE85 are, for now, the farthest from Earth ever captured 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. Data is stored in a solid-state recorder (the only moving parts in these flash memory devices are the electrons) on New Horizons and is then transmitted via radio waves.