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NASA sets record for farthest photos ever taken — from 4 billion miles away

New Horizons, the NASA spacecraft that gave us close-ups of Pluto, has set a record for the farthest photos ever taken.

This December 2017 false-color image made available by NASA in February 2018 shows KBO (Kuiper Belt object) 2012 HZ84. This image is, for now, one of the farthest pictures from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft. It was made by the New Horizons at 3.79 billion miles from Earth. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute via AP)

This December 2017 false-color image made available by NASA in February 2018 shows KBO (Kuiper Belt object) 2012 HZ84. This image is, for now, one of the farthest pictures from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft. It was made by the New Horizons at 3.79 billion miles from Earth. (NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute via AP)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The NASA spacecraft that gave us close-ups of Pluto has set a record for the farthest photos ever taken.

In December — while 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometres ) from Earth — the New Horizons spacecraft snapped a picture of a star cluster. The photo surpassed the "Pale Blue Dot" images of Earth taken in 1990 by NASA's Voyager 1.

The images for "Pale Blue Dot" — part of a composite — were taken 3.75 billion miles (6.06 billion kilometres ) away.

New Horizons took more photos as it sped deeper into the cosmos in December. These pictures show two objects in the Kuiper Belt, the so-called twilight zone on the fringes of our solar system.

NASA released the images this week.

New Horizons flew past Pluto in 2015. It's headed toward an even closer encounter with another icy world, 1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometres ) beyond Pluto, on Jan. 1, 2019. The targeted object is known as 2014 MU69; the spacecraft will pass within 2,175 miles (3,500 kilometres ).

This image made available by NASA on Friday, July 24, 2015 shows a combination of images captured by the New Horizons spacecraft with enhanced colors to show differences in the composition and texture of Pluto's surface.

NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI via AP

This image made available by NASA on Friday, July 24, 2015 shows a combination of images captured by the New Horizons spacecraft with enhanced colors to show differences in the composition and texture of Pluto's surface.

"New Horizons just couldn't be better ... we're bearing down on our flyby target," said lead scientist Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

New Horizons is currently in electronic hibernation. Flight controllers at a Johns Hopkins University lab in Laurel, Maryland, will awaken the spacecraft in June and start getting it ready for the flyby.

The spacecraft was launched in 2006.

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