Kuiper Belt Objects

The New Horizons spacecraft has recently observed several Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) using its Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI). These December, 2017, false-color images of KBOs 2012 HZ84 (left) and 2012 HE85 are, for now, the farthest images from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft. It’s now even farther out than Voyager 1 was when it took the famous “Pale Blue Dot” image in which Earth shows up as a single pixel, but it will be sending back more images from even farther out. On New Year’s Day, 2019, New Horizons will fly by its next survey target, a KBO named 2014 MU69 which is over one-and-a-half billion km beyond Pluto.

Image Credit: NASA

Charon Lit by Plutoshine

This image was taken by the Ralph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera aboard New Horizons on 15 July, 2015, when the spacecraft was around 160,000 km beyond Pluto. It shows the night side the moon Charon against a star field. Charon, which about the size of Texas, is mostly lit by faint light reflected from Pluto. The bright crescent on Charon’s right edge is a bit of sunlit terrain, overexposed compared to the rest of the image.

Image Credits: NASA / JHUAPL / SwRI