NASA Beams Cat Video to Earth From 19M Miles Away

This could be a big deal in terms of eventual Mars exploration
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2023 1:30 AM CST
In 'Historic Milestone,' Cat Video Beamed to Earth From Space
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / digitalmazdoor digitalmazdoor)

Ultra-high definition video of an orange tabby cat named Taters has been beamed to Earth from almost 19 million miles away. Why? Because NASA decided to use the 15-second video as part of its Deep Space Optical Communications experiment, CBS News reports. The video of the cat (who is owned by an employee of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory) was uploaded to NASA's Psyche asteroid probe before its October launch, and last week, on Psyche's way to the asteroid it's aiming for, the video was transmitted back to Earth. It's the first time NASA has used a laser to stream a video from deep space, CNN reports. The space agency is calling the feat a "historic milestone."

Fittingly, Taters is seen chasing the red dot from a laser pointer in the video. As for NASA's use of a laser, "a flight laser transceiver was used to beam the video as an encoded near-infrared laser," CBS explains. The distance between Psyche and Caltech's Palomar Observatory in San Diego County, California, where the video was beamed, is about 80 times as far as it is from the Earth to the moon. It took only 101 seconds for the laser to reach Earth; it can transmit data at up to 100 times the speed of traditional radio wave systems other NASA missions have used. Having the ability to quickly communicate from deep space could come in handy as humans look to one day travel to Mars. (More NASA stories.)

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