Published: Mon, February 12, 2018
Science | By Hubert Green

NASA released incredible images of dwarf planets

NASA released incredible images of dwarf planets

The photo surpassed the "Pale Blue Dot" images of Earth taken in 1990 by NASA's Voyager 1.

After the fly-by, the spacecraft continued into the Kuiper Belt. Then, mere hours later, it beat its own record with yet another photo from 3.79 billion miles away of celestial objects in the Kuiper Belt.

At a distance of 3.79 billion miles from Earth, New Horizons recorded a picture of a star cluster this past December.

The picture shown above, a false-colour image of a Kuiper Belt object with the designation 2012 HZ84, is the most distant photo from Earth ever taken by a spacecraft.

There, NASA says it plans for New Horizons to make flyby investigations of at least two dozen objects, such as "dwarf planets and 'Centaurs, ' former [Kuiper Belt objects] in unstable orbits that cross the orbits of the giant planets". They were the last photographs the probe took before its cameras were shut down.

Just two hours after breaking the almost three-decade-old record, New Horizons broke its own record, photographing two small KBOs, 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85 from an even more distant location.

In so doing, they also broke a record that had stood untouched since 1990, when the Voyager 1 spacecraft sent back a final glimpse of Earth before its cameras went dark. Mission scientists study the images to determine the objects' shapes and surface properties, and to check for moons and rings. It's headed toward an even closer encounter with another icy world, 1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto, on January 1, 2019.

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is making history again, this time one-upping the legendary Voyager 1. It will be woken up on June 4 to start preparations for its MU69 flyby.

"New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched", says New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

The US Space Agency said: "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". She is a member of the Cranford, NJ-based Amateur Astronomers, Inc.

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