NASA beams cat video 19 million miles through space
NASA put the latest and greatest technology to its best use this week and successfully beamed a cat video through deep space. The video of Taters the cat chasing a laser point of light, was sent back to Earth from 19 million miles away.
While it’s amusing that the subject is a cat, and a cute one at that, this video marks a huge accomplishment for the technical team.
The Deep Space Optical Communications experiment beamed the ultra-high definition video on December 11th. The 15-second video was sent via a flight laser transceiver. The video signal took 101 seconds to reach Earth, sent at the system’s maximum bit rate of 267 megabits per second (Mbps).
The data was then encoded as a near-infrared laser and sent to an observatory in San Diego, California, where it was downloaded. Then each frame of the video was sent ‘live’ to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) and relooped into a video where it played back in real-time.
Faster than broadband
Unbelievably, the video was sent more quickly than most terrestrial broadband connections manage. In fact, the connection via deep space was faster than the final leg of the journey from San Diego to NASA.
This test shows how deep-space communications can be improved for future missions. It is designed to transmit data up to 100 times more efficiently than current radio transmissions. It’s basically all preparing for the possibility of one day sending humans to Mars.
“One of the goals is to demonstrate the ability to transmit broadband video across millions of miles,” said Bill Klipstein, the tech demo’s project manager at JPL. However, he also added that the team wanted to make the moment a bit more memorable by adding “a fun video” to the project.
I can’t agree more with him, and I love the humourous side of using such cutting edge technology to send a cute cat video. If any sentient beings are out there, they aren’t going to feel threatened by Taters the cat!
Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe