Shocking new photos deep in space with blow your mind

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Today NASA released a set of images captured by New Horizons' Long Range Reconnaissance Imager on December 5 of past year, when the piano-sized probe was 3.79 billion miles from Earth. Its latest snaps may not be its most spectacular, but are pioneering in their own way as the farthest images ever snapped away from the Earth. New Horizons had traveled 6.12 billion kilometers when it took a grainy picture of the Wishing Well star cluster.

New Horizons was even farther from home than NASA's Voyager 1 when it captured the famous "Pale Blue Dot" image of Earth.

But New Horizons is the first to send back a picture for so far afield. "On Dec. 9 it carried out the most-distant course-correction maneuver ever, as the mission team guided the spacecraft toward a close encounter with a KBO named 2014 MU69 on January 1, 2019", says NASA. The story behind them, though, is one for history books.

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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. Mission scientists study the images to determine the objects' shapes and surface properties, and to check for moons and rings. It's not just taking awesome photos on its path, but also carrying measurements of the plasma, dust and neutral-gas environment along the way, enabling astronomers to better understand the outskirts of our solar system.

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft recently turned its telescopic camera toward a field of stars, snapped an image - and made history.

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New Horizons is sleeping now, resting up for its next big adventure. In fact, the all we know about it has come from the Hubble Space Telescope (used to discover the object in 2014) and a comprehensive observation campaign last summer, in which the New Horizons team gathered data on MU69 as it passed in front of three stars.

Talking about the new milestone images is New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern, who said, "New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched". It is the fifth of five artificial objects to achieve the escape velocity that will allow them to leave the Solar System.

But now, New Horizons mission is yet to finish as it travels at a speed of 1.1m km a day to reach its final objective: the observation of objects in the Kuiper-Edgeworth Belt which got underway past year.

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

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