NASA's New Horizons captures the farthest images ever taken from Earth

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The spacecraft became the first to fly over Pluto in 2015, and the first to explore the Kuiper Belt.

Soon after the Pale Blue Dot picture was taken, the cameras were turned off on Voyager 1, leaving its record unchallenged for the next 27 years. The spacecraft will fly close to the object on January 1st, 2019, snapping even more record-breaking images when it whizzes by.

Such is the case with its New Horizons spacecraft, which made history by turning its telescopic camera toward a field of stars on December 5 when it snapped a photograph of the "Wishing Well" galactic star cluster 3.79 billion miles away from Earth. About two hours later, New Horizons broke the record again with images of two Kuiper Belt objects. Thanks to observations from Earth, the New Horizons mission team believes that MU69 may not be just one object, but perhaps two objects located close together.

Alan Stern, the mission's principal investigator, said: "New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched", Alan Stern, the mission's principal investigator.

New Horizons first left Earth in 2006 with the aim of flying by Pluto, which it did in 2015, taking some dramatic photos along the way. In February 1990, Voyager 1 was exiting our solar system when it snapped the iconic "Pale Blue Dot" photo - a picture of Earth from over 6.06 billion kilometers away. Then New Horizons started its journey towards Pluto, the dwarf planet. The red line marks the path of the New Horizons spacecraft.

The Kuiper belt object flyby is "not almost as flashy as Pluto", Porter said, but "it's a really unique observation". To get there, New Horizons is trucking: It travels more than 700,000 miles (1.1 million km) a day.

Two hours later, LORRI looked at two objects in the Kuiper Belt, the ring of icy objects that New Horizons has been traveling through in the wake of its Pluto encounter.

The Kuiper Belt is a circumstellar disc in the outer Solar System extending from the orbit of Neptune (at 30 AU) to approximately 50 AU from the Sun.

New Horizons is slated to observe at least two dozen other objects in the Kuiper Belt, including dwarf planets and asteroid-like masses called Centaurs.

It wasn't until this past December when Voyager 1's record was finally broken. The transmission rate for New Horizons is only about 2 kilobits per second.

On Earth, NASA's Deep Space Network antenna dishes catch the faint signals coming from New Horizons and reassemble the raw data into a usable form.

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