For a couple of hours, this New Horizons image of the so-called Wishing Well star cluster, snapped on December 5, 2017, was the farthest image ever captured by a spacecraft.
And, NASA says they're the closest images yet of objects in this region.
At the time, New Horizons was 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers) from Earth. Now, it's reportedly snapped the farthest photo from Earth that's ever been taken. In 1990, the iconic probe captured a long-distance image of Earth, widely known as the "Pale Blue Dot" photo. Though the process was routine, the simple image officially broke Voyager 1's record. The image of an icy rock in the Kuiper belt has had colour added to increase the contrast. For more than 27 years, this long-distance record remained unchallenged.
But New Horizons is the first to send back a picture for so far afield. On Dec. 5, the probe's cameras pointed toward the "Wishing Well' star cluster and snapped a photo".
At first glance the images are unremarkable.
The piano-sized probe then turned to the Kuiper Belt. These images once again broke the record for being the most distant images taken from Earth (again), but also set a new record for the closest-ever images ever taken of KBOs.
NASA program director Alan Stern said: "New Horizons has always been a first-time mission, the first to explore Pluto, the first to explore the Camping Zone and the fastest spacecraft ever launched". This image is, for now, one of the farthest pictures from Earth ever captured by a spacecraft. These include the most-distant course-correction maneuver, which took place on December 9th, 2017, and guided the spacecraft towards its planned flyby with the KBO 2014 MU69. The date of the rendezvous is on New Year's Day, according to Cheng.
NASA also plans for the spacecraft to observe at least two-dozen other KBOs, dwarf planets, and Centaurs - the former KBOS in unstable orbits that cross the orbits of giant planets.
But the New Horizons photos are a worthwhile reminder that as technology improves, and as NASA probes and crafts work their way deeper and deeper into space, there's going to be a wealth of interesting, engrossing, and attractive photos as a result. These efforts could reveal much about the formation and evolution of the Solar System, and are setting records that are not likely to be broken for many more decades!