At first glance the images are unremarkable.
New Horizons is going to get nudged out of hibernation again on the 4th of June.
The routine calibration frame of the "Wishing Well" galactic open star cluster, made by the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) on December 5th, was taken when New Horizons was 3.79 billion miles (6.12 billion kilometers, or 40.9 astronomical units) from Earth - making it, for a time, the farthest image ever made from Earth.
Just two hours after breaking the almost three-decade-old record, New Horizons broke its own record, photographing two small KBOs, 2012 HZ84 and 2012 HE85 from an even more distant location.
It's not the first time New Horizons has managed an unprecedented feat. That shot - which was, in fact, part of a composite of 60 images - came to be known as the "Pale Blue Dot", famously memorialized by Carl Sagan for depicting Earth as "a mote of dust suspended on a sunbeam".
"New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts-first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched", said Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado.
That image was made at a vantage point of 3.75 billion miles from Earth.
"And now, we've been able to make images farther from Earth than any spacecraft in history", Stern said.
The spacecraft was launched in 2006.
MU69 will be the most distant world ever explored. Considering that was an image of our own planet taken from afar, it figures that it'd probably remain the more popular and iconic of the two―humanity can be self-centered, after all, and the Kuiper Belt is remote.
During its extended mission in the Kuiper Belt, which began in 2017, New Horizons is aiming to observe at least two-dozen other KBOs, dwarf planets and "Centaurs", former KBOs in unstable orbits that cross the orbits of the giant planets.
Mission scientists plan to use images of these objects, captured by LORRI, to determine their shapes, sizes, and surface properties.
Anyone who's passionate about astronomy and outer space knows that few things can compare to the grandeur and beauty of deep space photography, and on that front, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is doing great work. Since then it's been heading into the Kuiper Belt, and will carry out a flyby of Kuiper Belt object (KBO) 2014 MU69 in January 2019. "The spacecraft also is making almost continuous measurements of the plasma, dust and neutral-gas environment along its path".