Taters the cat stars in NASA’s first video broadcast from deep space | NASA

He may not be the first cat in space — that honor went to a French cat named Félicette in 1963 — but on Monday an orange tabby named Taters took home an arguably bigger prize: the first video of a cat in space.

NASA sent a 15-second video of the Taters spacecraft, which traveled nearly 19 million miles from the probe to Earth.

Taters, who belongs to a staffer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, chases the dot of a laser pointer in the video — which is appropriate enough given that the video itself was transmitted by a laser.

Tater’s 15 seconds of fame was actually a NASA experiment designed to help test the possibility of sending streaming video across deep space, for the days when humans eventually travel beyond Earth’s orbit.

We’ve just streamed the first HD video brought to you via laser from deep space. It’s a video of Taters, the tabby cat.

This test will pave the way for high-speed communications to support the next giant leap: sending humans to Mars. https://t.co/tf2hWxaHWO pic.twitter.com/c1FwybYsxA

– NASA (@NASA) December 19, 2023

The agency’s Deep Space Optical Communications team added Taters’ video to the Psyche probe, which launched in October on a six-year mission to visit an asteroid. On December 11, it sent the video back to Earth.

“One goal is to demonstrate the ability to transmit broadband video over millions of miles,” Bill Klippstein, technology demonstration project manager at JPL, told CBS. “There’s nothing on Psyche that generates video data, so we typically send packets of randomly generated test data.

“But to make this important event even more memorable, we decided to work with designers at JPL to create a fun video.”

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Despite being a flight more than 80 times the distance between Earth and the Moon, Taters’ transmission took only 101 seconds. That’s faster than most broadband Internet networks on Earth.

NASA described it as a historic milestone, with its deputy administrator, Pam Milroy, saying in a statement: “Increasing our bandwidth is essential to achieving our future exploration and science goals, and we look forward to the continued advancement of this technology and technology transformation.” “How will we communicate during future interplanetary missions?”

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