Right now the NASA spacecraft that flew by Pluto has now made a flyby of a Kupier Belt Object called Ultima Thule. This is the furthest thing from Earth that Humanity has every imaged. It’s so far away that it will take 20 months to send back all the pictures. The radio signal takes 6 hours and 8 minutes to get to us; we are about 4.1 billion miles from the spacecraft.
This is the first time that anyone has ever taken an image of a Kuiper Belt object. We will be getting 1500 photos, hopefully. The spacecraft was programmed to take 1500 images as it passed by, but we won’t know how successful that was until we get them all.
Now if you are curious what the thing looks like, the answer is likely this. As of my writing this post, this is the best image that NASA has. The red color is the real color of the object. The enhanced gray and enhanced red is a likely guess from the real blurry red image. At it’s closest, the object is about 2200 miles away, or about the distance from NYC to Las Vegas.
I am obviously very excited about this, and I hope you are too. This is one of the great times in space science.