The New Horizons spacecraft is already 209,437,000 km (130,138,000 miles) past Pluto (as of Dec. 4, 2015), making it 5,226,950,000 km (3,247,880,000 miles) from Earth. So, yes, it’s way out there. Recently, it took the closest images ever of a distant Kuiper Belt object, setting a record by a factor of at least 15, according to NASA. The team says this image demonstrates the spacecraft’s ability to observe numerous similar bodies over the next several years.
The object spotted by the spacecraft’s Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) is called 1994 JR1, or also Plutino 15810. It is a 90-mile (150-kilometer)-wide ancient body. This animation was created from 4 images taken on Nov. 2, spaced an hour apart.
When these images were taken, 1994 JR1 was 3.3 billion miles (5.3 billion km) from the Sun, but only 170 million miles (280 million km) away from New Horizons.
1994 JR1 is an interesting object, as it also is an “accidental quasi-satellite” of Pluto, meaning it is in a specific type of co-orbital configuration (1:1 orbital resonance) with Pluto, and it will stay close to the dwarf planet for about 350,000 years.
You can read a paper about 1994 JR1 here.
The New Horizons team is still waiting to hear if NASA will approve an extended mission into the Kuiper Belt. The spacecraft is already headed for a close flyby of another Kuiper Belt object, 2014 MU69, on Jan. 1, 2019, and maybe more, if all goes well and funding is approved.
Source: New Horizons