While the rest of the world is watching and waiting for new information about Starman (a SpaceX mannequin clad in a new suit designed for her and sitting on the driver's seat of the Tesla electric powerhouse heading toward Mars), the NASA space agency published the world's most distant space photo , made by the spacecraft "New Horizons". At the time of the photograph (December 5, 2017), the device was 6.12 billion kilometers from the Earth.
In addition to the record range, the photographs of the "New Horizons" have other stunning features. The station managed to capture several objects of the Kuiper belt, located at a distance of 55 astronomical units from the Earth, beyond the orbit of Neptune. The belt consists of small space bodies and clusters of various substances, such as ice, ammonia and methane.
Recall that one astronomical unit is 149.6 million kilometers, that is, the distance from the Earth to the Sun. Thus, the objects that managed to capture New Horizons, are from us at a distance of over eight billion kilometers. In particular, the station moving to its main goal – the Kuiper belt object 2014 MU69 – managed to obtain images of several dwarf planets 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85, made in conventional colors.
Kuiper Belt Objects 2012 HZ84 (on the left) and 2012 HE85 (on the right)
On the same day, but two hours earlier the apparatus made another photo. This time the object for the picture was a more distant goal – a star cluster of Wishes of Desires (NGC 3532).
The Star Cluster The Well of Desires (NGC 3532)
From 2015 to 2016, the device carried out a whole photoset of detailed images of the dwarf planet Pluto, which gave astronomers the next opportunity to study and analyze the surface of this celestial body at an unprecedentedly new detailed level.
It should be noted that the "New Horizons" is far from being the first device that managed to get so far from the Earth. Before him there were such probes as Voyager-1/2, and also Pioner-10/11. However, the "New Horizons" is the only man-made spacecraft whose camera is still in working order. At the moment, the probe is in the hibernation mode and is moving towards its main mission goal. Scientists expect that in 2019 the device will be able to capture the planetoid 2014 MU69, which is 1.6 billion kilometers away from Pluto.