The NASA New Horizons probe just set a new interstellar exploration record, taking pictures from further out in space than ever before - it snapped the shots you see above some 6.12 billion kilometres (3.79 billion miles) away from Earth.
"New Horizons has always been a mission of firsts - first to explore Pluto, first to explore the Kuiper Belt, fastest spacecraft ever launched", said New Horizons Principal Investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
On Feb. 14, 1990, the Voyager 1, located at 6.06 billion kilometers (40.5 astronomical units) from Earth, drew a famous photo of our planet as a pale blue dot.
"And now, we've been able to make images farther from Earth than any spacecraft in history".
They might not look like much, sure―the above images are the closest ever taken of objects within the Kuiper Belt―but it's a landmark moment for space photography all the same.
Voyager 1's cameras were turned off shortly after that portrait, leaving its distance record unchallenged for more than 27 years.
"New Horizons has always been a first-time mission - the first to explore Pluto, the first to explore the Kaiber Zone, the fastest spacecraft ever shot". 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. Given that the New Horizons is still making its way through the solar system, it's entirely possible there will be more incredibly distant images in the weeks and months to come.
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 lovely photos as a result.