The most distant photo ever taken

NASA probe “New Horizons” snaps farthest-ever photo from Earth

The routine calibration frame of the "Wishing Well" open star cluster was taken when the spacecraft was 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion km) from Earth - making it, for a time, the farthest image ever made from our planet.

The space probe was even farther from home than NASA's Voyager 1 when it captured the famous "Pale Blue Dot" image of Earth. NASA says mission controllers will "bring the spacecraft out of its electronic slumber" this coming summer in anticipation of its next major close encounter, with an object known as 2014 MU69 on January 1, 2019. The subjects include the "Wishing Well" star cluster as well as two large objects in the Kuiper Belt which have never been observed from such a distance before.

Image of the "Wishing Well" star cluster, taken December 5, 2017, which temporarily broke the 27-year record set by Voyager 1.

And, NASA says they're the closest images yet of objects in this region. During its voyage to the outer reaches of the solar system, the spacecraft usually stays in hibernation mode to conserve energy.

NASA program director Alan Stern said: "New Horizons has always been a first-time mission, the first to explore Pluto, the first to explore the Camping Zone and the fastest spacecraft ever launched". That shot - which was, in fact, part of a composite of 60 images - came to be known as the "Pale Blue Dot," famously for depicting Earth as "a mote of dust suspended on a sunbeam".

Anyone who's passionate about astronomy and outer space knows that few things can compare to the grandeur and beauty of deep space photography, and on that front, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is doing great work.

New Horizons is the probe that flew by Pluto on July 14, 2015, and beamed back those unbelievable pictures.

New Horizons is now in electronic hibernation. While this image broke the long-distance record established by Voyager 1, the probe then turned its LORRI instrument towards objects in its flight path.

Getting the images to Earth is no easy task.

And, just hours later, it beat its own record.

Launched in 2006, New Horizons is headed toward 2014 MU69, an icy world 1 billion miles beyond Pluto. As Stephanie Pappas at LiveScience reports, after snapping an image and storing it on its hard drive, New Horizons sends its data back on an antenna that transmits at only 12 watts, moving data at a snail's pace-only two kilobits per second.

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