NASA has completed their ambitious star-measuring experiment which involved sending a spacecraft to survey an ‘Alien Sky’ so far away from the Earth that the planet appears in a completely different position.
The spacecraft named New Horizons traveled 7 billion km away from the Earth to measure the distance between the stars and this was achieved by the ‘parallax effect’ which is when scientists compare images of stars that have appeared to change position or shift in the background when viewed from different locations.
Nasa Website explains the Parallax Effect as “An easy way to see parallax is to place one finger at arm’s length and watch it jump back and forth when you view it successively with each eye.
Similarly, as Earth makes its way around the Sun, the stars shift their positions.
But because even the nearest stars are hundreds of thousands of times farther away than the diameter of Earth’s orbit, the parallax shifts are tiny, and can only be measured with precise instrumentation.”
In this case, NASA scientists have compared images taken by New Horizons spacecraft to the pictures taken by a telescope on the same day. Example of these stars includes Proxima Centauri and Wolf 359. This helped the scientists to map the largest parallax baseline ever.
However, the research and spacecraft have not finished yet “The New Horizons spacecraft continues to speed away from Earth toward interstellar space and is continuing to return exciting new data for planetary science” said Kenneth Hansen, New Horizons program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.