NASA space probe takes 'furthest ever' photo from Earth

This illustration provided by NASA shows the New Horizons spacecraft. The probe whipped past Pluto in 2015 and is headed to 2014 MU69 for an attempted 2019 flyby of the tiny icy world on the edge of the solar system

The U.S. space agency reports in a news release that the New Horizons made the image back in December 2017 using its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager.

Since New Horizons is just the fifth spacecraft to speed beyond the outer planets, many of its activities have set distance records, too.

These photos were captured in December by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on board New Horizons, and were shot just before it went back into hibernation. The image of an icy rock in the Kuiper belt has had colour added to increase the contrast. These pictures show two objects in the Kuiper Belt, the so-called twilight zone on the fringes of our solar system.

During its extended mission in the Kuiper Belt, which began in 2017, New Horizons is hoping to observe at least two-dozen other KBOs, dwarf planets and "Centaurs" - former KBOs in unstable orbits that cross the orbits of the giant planets.

The New Horizons spacecraft is said to be in good condition and is now hibernating, with mission control planning to awaken it again on June 4 in preparation for a flyby of Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 in mid-2019.

That picture was part of a composite of 60 images looking back at the solar system, on February 14, 1990, when Voyager was 3.75 billion miles from Earth.

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The record was previously held by NASA's Voyager 1 when it captured the famous "Pale Blue Dot" image of Earth more than 27 years ago on Valentine's Day, 1990.

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.

New Horizons is reportedly healthy and everything is functioning as planned.

It wasn't until this past December when Voyager 1's record was finally broken. That was followed up with the shots of the Kuiper Belt two hours later. It imaged the Wishing Well at 3.79 billion miles away, beating the Blue Dot photo shoot by 40 million miles.

The Wishing Well star cluster. It performed an unprecedented flyby study of the Pluto system in 2015, offering a dramatic view of the dwarf planet and its satellites. With its latest wake-up, it broke the record for the farthest image humanity has ever taken away from Earth. On January 1, 2019, the probe will fly by a small, frozen world in the Kuiper Belt called 2014 MU69, which orbits a billion miles beyond Pluto.

The Kuiper belt object flyby is "not almost as flashy as Pluto", Porter said, but "it's a really unique observation".

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