The Farthest Pictures From Earth Ever Taken
The image of a Kuiper Belt object that NASA’s New Horizons space probe took from 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers) away from Earth. NASA.GOV
NASA’s New Horizons space probe was launched in 2006 on a mission to gather information about Pluto and its moons and the Kuiper Belt, a ring of debris on the edge of our solar system. After reaching Pluto in 2015, the craft made some startling discoveries, including ice-covered mountains that towered 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) above Pluto’s surface, and a massive 4- to 6-mile (7- to 9-kilometer) deep canyon on the surface of Charon, one of Pluto’s moons.
Now, the spacecraft has achieved yet another mind-blowing feat, by using its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager instrument to take these pictures of Kuiper Belt objects and the Wishing Well star cluster from a distance of 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers) from Earth. That’s the farthest away from our planet that any camera has snapped images, surpassing the famous “Pale Blue Dot” image of Earth shot by NASA’s Voyager 1 back in February 1990.
New Horizons may produce even more spectacular images when it awakens from its current hibernation and does a close-up fly-by of a Kuiper belt object called 2014 MU69, which is located about 4 billion (6.43 billion) miles from Earth, in January 2019. One of the things New Horizons will be trying to find out is whether MU69 is actually two pieces of rock, orbiting close together. MU69 will be the most distant object ever observed with a fly-by.