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NASA Beams Cat Video ‘Taters’ from Space in Historic Laser Transmission

NASA Beams Cat Video ‘Taters’ from Space in Historic Laser Transmission

NASA Beams Cat Video ‘Taters’ from Space in Historic Laser Transmission
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  • NASA’s Psyche sends cat video ‘Taters’ via deep space laser.
  • DSOC transmits 15-second video at record speed from 19 million miles away.
  • Optical breakthrough accelerates interplanetary data exchange.
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NASA’s Psyche mission has successfully beamed a cat video named ‘Taters’ from deep space using a laser communication experiment.

The groundbreaking Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) project transmitted a 15-second ultra-high definition video from the Psyche spacecraft, located nearly 19 million miles away from Earth, to the Hale Telescope at the California Institute of Technology’s Palomar Observatory.

The playful orange tabby cat, Taters, is seen chasing the elusive red dot from a laser pointer across a couch in the video. This marks the first time NASA has streamed a video from deep space using laser technology. The DSOC experiment aims to demonstrate the feasibility of using high-bandwidth laser communications for future space exploration missions, including the transmission of data, imagery, and videos from distant locations such as Mars.

The video was encoded in a near-infrared laser and transmitted at a distance 80 times greater than that between Earth and the moon. It took only 101 seconds for the laser to reach Earth, showcasing its ability to send data at speeds 10 to 100 times faster than traditional radio wave systems used in other NASA missions.

The successful transmission is a major milestone for optical communications, highlighting its potential to revolutionize data transmission in deep space. NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy emphasized the importance of increasing bandwidth to meet future exploration and science goals.

The DSOC team, responsible for the laser experiment, collaborated with designers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to create a fun and memorable video featuring Taters. The video, uploaded to DSOC before the Psyche launch, includes a graphics overlay showcasing Psyche’s orbital path, the Palomar telescope dome, and details about Taters’ color, breed, and heart rate.

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The decision to include a cat video pays homage to broadcast history, as a statuette of the Felix the Cat cartoon was used in television test broadcast transmissions starting in 1928. The success of the laser experiment, coupled with the popularity of cat videos and memes, adds a unique touch to this groundbreaking achievement in space communication.

The DSOC project has achieved several milestones, including its first successful data transmission on November 14, referred to as “first light.” With fast data downlink speeds comparable to broadband internet, the DSOC team is optimistic about the technology’s potential for future interplanetary missions. The recent download of 1.3 terabits of data in one evening showcases the efficiency of laser communication in comparison to traditional methods.

The successful transmission of Taters’ video from deep space marks a significant step forward in advancing optical communications and sets the stage for the transformation of communication methods in future space exploration endeavors.

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