Now THAT is Far-Out, NASA

NASA Image
(NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute via AP)

NASA Breaks Record for Pictures Taken Farthest From Earth

At first glance, it looks like old-school TV static or a faraway stoplight on a rainy day. But it’s actually a picture taken from BILLIONS of miles away, in the Kuiper Belt. The Kuiper Belt is a series of comets and asteroids wayyy out yonder, past Neptune. The objects in the Kuiper Belt are made up primarily of ice. It’s one of the last things you see before you leave our Milky Way Galaxy. In other words, “On your way outta town, if you spot the Kuiper Belt, you’ve gone too far.”

Now, NASA has sent the New Horizons probe out past Pluto (where it took some incredible pictures!) and on toward the Kuiper Belt. Next time you’re zipping along the Canyon E-way at 75-mph, keep in mind that the New Horizons probe is traveling at 700,000 miles every day!  That’s making good time. No stops for sodas or bathroom breaks.  NASA said in a statement that New Horizons snapped a picture of a group of stars known as the “Wishing Well” when the spacecraft was about 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers) from Earth.

New Horizons broke its own record a couple of hours later that day by taking images of two space rocks in the Kuiper Belt, a disc-shaped region beyond Neptune that may be home to hundreds of thousands of icy worlds and a trillion or more comets, according to a NASA statement.

The probe is sleeping now, resting up for its next big adventure. On January 1, 2019, the probe will fly by a small, frozen world in the Kuiper Belt called 2014 MU69, which orbits a billion miles beyond Pluto.

MU69 will be the most distant world ever explored. Yes, MU 69 is a boring name and NASA is asking the public to help come up with a better one.
New Horizons was launched on January 19, 2006. It finished its primary mission with the Pluto flyby in 2015 and is now on an extended mission to explore the Kuiper Belt, helping the US to complete its reconnaissance of our solar system.


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