The New Horizons spacecraft’s imager (called the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager) captured these false-color images in December 2017 of Kuiper Belt Objects 2012 HZ84 (left) and 2012 HE85. These are, for now, the farthest images from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft.
The photos don’t look like much: blurry green splotches against pixelated blue. But they’re arguably among the most amazing photographic images ever.
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. That spacecraft is New Horizons, a NASA starship that zipped past Pluto in 2015 and is scheduled to fly by an object in the icy Kuiper Belt at the outer reaches of the solar system in January 2019.
New Horizons snapped these two farthest-out shots, of Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85, on Dec. 5, 2017. Just 2 hours before, the spacecraft had officially claimed the title of spaciest photographer by capturing a camera-calibration shot of a far-off star cluster known as the Wishing Well. It was a fleeting record, because 2 hours later, the two KBOs were imaged.