The first video streamed from deep space has arrived, with NASA showcasing an HD video of a cat named Taters chasing a laser. The video was streamed from a DSOC transceiver aboard the Psyche spacecraft, which is almost 19 million miles away from Earth.
It’s a monumental accomplishment to pull off such a long-distance streaming project, and it shows just how powerful NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) experiment has already proven to be. The system utilizes lasers to send communication signals across long distances in space, and could completely change how we communicate on future space missions.
“This accomplishment underscores our commitment to advancing optical communications as a key element to meeting our future data transmission needs,” NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy said in a post detailing the streaming of the first deep space video.
Melroy says that NASA hopes to increase the bandwidth that we have to help make future exploration easier while expanding the reach of science goals that aren’t currently possible right now. The demo that NASA showcased transmitted the 15-second test video via an instrument called a flight laser transceiver. This cutting-edge transmitter allowed the video of Taters chasing a laser to stream in HD with a maximum bit rate of 267 megabits per second (Mbps) and reached Earth in just 101 seconds.
The communications demo system launched with NASA’s Psyche mission on October 13, and is designed to send signals from deep space at rates 10 to 100 times greater than the current radio-frequency systems that are used today. Just as it allowed us to stream the first deep space video in HD, the signal could allow for better communications with future deep space exploration vessels, as well as future missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
That cat featured in the video belongs to one of the JPL employees, and will forever go down in history as the star of the first deep space video. Considering how prevalent cat videos are on the internet, it’s honestly fitting that the first video streamed from deep space features a cat, too.