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.
That's because they were taken from the farthest point from planet Earth of any images ever captured, snapped by a spacecraft just over 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers) from its home planet. 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 U.S. to complete its reconnaissance of our solar system.
Since that time, New Horizons has carried on to the Kuiper Belt for the sake of conducting more historic encounters.
And, just hours later, it beat its own record. It was a fleeting record, because 2 hours later, the two KBOs were imaged.
'And now, we've been able to make images farther from Earth than any spacecraft in history'.
By comparison, the iconic Pale Blue Dot photo of Earth was captured by NASA's Voyager 1 space probe when it was 3.7 billion miles away, or 90 million miles closer than this latest record-breaking shot. The spacecraft is slated to swing by another Kuiper Belt object (2014 MU69) on January 1st, 2019 and record more imagery in the process. The image of an icy rock in the Kuiper belt has had colour added to increase the contrast.
New Horizons recorded a picture of a star cluster taken from almost 4 billion miles away, breaking the previous record.
For now, though, New Horizons is now enjoying some well-deserved hibernation as it hurtles away from us at a rate of roughly 700,000 miles a day.
However, in December of 2017, the New Horizons team began conducting a routine calibration test of the LORRI instrument.
But the New Horizons photos are a worthwhile reminder that as technology improves, and as NASA probes and crafts work their way deeper and deeper into space, there's going to be a wealth of interesting, engrossing, and handsome photos as a result.
Were you impressed by New Horizons' achievement?
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.
NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has broken the record for an image taken at the farthest distance from Earth in history.