Wednesday, 17 October 2018 | News today: 0

Photo of the Earth from a distance of 6.12 billion kilometers


The spacecraft that gave us close-ups of Pluto has set a record for the farthest photos ever taken.

NASA’s probe New Horizons recently took a photo of the Earth from a distance of 6.12 billion kilometers, breaking a record that had stood for nearly three decades, AP reports.

When the probe Voyager 1 was 6.06 billion kilometers from Earth, on Valentine’s Day 1990, it turned its camera toward home and took a photo, called the Pale Blue Dot. Astronomer Carl Sagan famously remarked: “Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”

The Pale Blue Dot was the final picture beamed back to Earth by Voyager 1, now the most distant thing made by humans and the first craft to cross into interstellar space.

New Horizons, which was launched in 2006, is not as far from Earth as Voyager 1, but this spacecraft is also on track to leave the solar system.

In 2007, it flung itself around Jupiter to get a boost toward Pluto, where it arrived in summer 2015. There, it changed the way we view the dwarf planet.

New Horizons took more photos as it sped deeper into the cosmos in December. These pictures show two objects in the Kuiper Belt, the so-called twilight zone on the fringes of our solar system.

The probe continues its journey into the universe at a rate of about 1.1 million kilometers a day. During its travels, New Horizons alternates between periods of activity and dormancy to conserve fuel.

Its camera will continue to set image records as it flies by a Kuiper belt object called 2014 MU69 in January 2019, which orbits 1.6 billion kilometers beyond Pluto.

According to NASA, the spacecraft also is making nearly continuous measurements of the plasma, dust and neutral-gas environment along its path.