On February 9th, 2018 the American space research agency NASA announced that their space shuttle New Horizons spacecraft took the farthest photograph from earth. This is a new record in the history of science and photography.
The previous record for the most distant image captured on camera belongs to the “Pale Blue Dot” the famous photograph captured by Voyager 1 in the year 1990 on Valentine’s day.
Photographs of 2012 HE85 and KBOs 2012 HZ84 (right) taken by New Horizons spacecraft.
These are the closest pictures of Kuiper belt objects evert taken. Kuiper belt
is a region in the outermost area of our solar system which is similar to an astroid belt, but nearly 20 times larger in width and 200 times larger in size.
Pale Blue Dot Vs New Kuiper Belt Photograph
- Pale blue dot is an image of earth from the farthest distance whereas the new images are pictures of objects in Kuiper Belt.
- Pale blue dot was captured by Voyager 1 spacecraft. The Kuiper belt images are taken by New Horizon spacecraft.
- New Horizon is the same spacecraft that took the closest picture of Pluto in 2015.
- Pale Blue Dot remained the most distant photograph and its record was undisputed until these new photos were taken in December 2017.
- The image pale blue dot was the result of a photography technique known as composite photography were 60 different images were used to create it.
- Soon after the Pale Blue Dot was captured, the camera on Voyager 1 was shut down.
- The New Horizon spacecraft, however, is expected to capture more images of the outermost area of our solar system. According to NASA on January 1st, 2019 the New Horizon will encounter with 2014 MU69 which is a Kuiper Belt object that is 1 billion miles away from Pluto!
- The new image was taken at a distance of 3.79 billion miles away from earth
Do you know that the spacecraft New Horizon covers a distance of 1.1 million kilometers (700,000 miles) each day?
Voyager, the deep space explorer spacecraft has reached at the edge of the solar system. According to NASA the Voyager 1 reached at a region in space where the intensity of charged particles from beyond our solar system has remarkably increased. Scientists says that these charged particles that Voyager 1 came across are from stars outside of our solar system that have exploded in the galaxy.
Voyager 1 and Voyage 2 are the most distant man-made object in space. These space crafts were launched into the deep space in 1997.
*Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
From January 2009 to January 2012, there had been a gradual increase of about 25 percent in the amount of galactic cosmic rays Voyager was encountering. When the Voyagers launched in 1977, the space age was all of 20 years old. Many of us on the team dreamed of reaching interstellar space, but we really had no way of knowing how long a journey it would be — or if these two vehicles that we invested so much time and energy in would operate long enough to reach it.
– Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology
Lunar Eclipse as predicted in December
There will be unique phenomena in the space this year as winter solstice will correspond with a full lunar eclipse.
The occurrence of winter solstice with lunar eclipse will be for the first time in last 456 years.
As NASA reports, this will be first time since 1955 when winter solstice, which is the shortest day in a year will coincide with a lunar eclipse.
Another lunar eclipse had occurred this year on 26 June. Many astrologers and scientist are regarding this incident very special. Many ancient cultures considered winter solstice as a time of revitalization. Many Greco-Roman customs and rituals were performed on occurrence of winter solstice, as it was considered an auspicious day.
Shane Hawkins a university professor in Greek and Roman studies at Carleton University in Ottawa stated that astrologically a solstice in winter is considered a time for rebirth because sunlight reverts back from this point of time and days starts becoming larger every day. People might feel overwhelmed with excitement if the coincidence of winter solstice and lunar eclipse really occurs on December 21.
People in North and South America will be able to see the lunar eclipse post midnight on Tuesday. The eclipse will be visible till 5:30 am. It will be visible in Europe too but for a very short while.
SpaceX Falcon 9 heavy-lift launch vehicle
NASA is hopeful to launch rockets for international space station. The organization is set to test it SpaceX Falcon 9 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station situated in Florida.
After successful completion of the test, the device will circle around the earth and sink down in the Pacific Ocean after finishing its tasks. SpaceX Falcon 9 was first tried in the early morning around 9 am but could not take off due to some technical fault. Later it was re-launched after 90 minutes.
This space rocket is being tested for the first time and right now unmanned. NASA however, plans to send humans later on and use the rocket as a cargo to space station.
The United States is very enthusiastic about the launch of SpaceX Falcon 9 and earn from the commercial space industry. The US government further plans to send astronauts to Mars using these rockets.
The incumbent President, Barack Obama tried to increase funds for NASA space projects but could not succeed due to severe resistance from his opponents.
SpaceX is a commercial space company owned by Elon Musk. The company started its venture with a launch of Dragon 9.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 has cost 1 billion of which NASA funded only $253 million.
The launch of SpaceX Falcon 9 is considered a very fast and cheaper venture than previous projects.