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NASA's New Horizons probe has captured the farthest images from Earth by a spacecraft, surpassing Voyager 1's record of clicking a picture when it was 6.06 billion kilometres away from our planet.

The last time they did this was 5 December, when New Horizons took a routine calibration image of a cluster of stars, breaking a record for the most distant photograph ever taken.

The "Pale Blue Dot" images of Earth, taken in 1990, were part of the first ever "portrait" of the solar system taken by Voyager 1.

Voyager's cameras were turned off shortly afterward and are no longer being used, even though the probe continues to zoom through the solar system's fringe at a distance of 13.2 billion miles. Two hours later, the probe broke its own record by taking a picture of the Kuiper belt.

"That New Year's flight past MU69 will be the farthest planetary encounter in history, happening one billion miles beyond the Pluto system - which New Horizons famously explored in July 2015", said NASA. Voyager took them by turning its lens back towards Earth as the spacecraft sailed beyond Neptune on February 14, 1990. Mission scientists study the images to determine the objects' shapes and surface properties, and to check for moons and rings.

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Alan Stern, the mission's principal investigator, said: "New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched", Alan Stern, the mission's principal investigator.

The New Horizons spacecraft is healthy and is now in hibernation.

New Horizons was launched on January 19, 2006. Mission controllers at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, will bring the spacecraft out of its electronic slumber on June 4 and begin a series of system checkouts and other activities to prepare New Horizons for the MU69 encounter. There are only four spacecraft that have ever traveled that far from home: Voyager 1 and 2, and Pioneer 10 and 11.

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. It'll be the first up-close look of a Kuiper Belt object. (Pluto is one of these dwarf planets.) 2014 MU69 is almost a billion miles beyond Pluto, which itself is 4.67 billion miles (7.5 billion km) beyond Earth.


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