NASA’s first video from deep space features a cat named Taters as the star.
Although he may not hold the title of first cat in space, as that was achieved by a French cat named Félicette in 1963, an orange tabby named Taters has now claimed the noteworthy accomplishment of being the first cat to star in a video from space on Monday.
NASA transmitted a high-definition 15-second video of the planet Mars from a probe back to Earth, covering a distance of approximately 19 million miles.
Taters, owned by an employee of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), can be seen in the video chasing a dot from a laser pointer. Appropriately, the video was transmitted using a laser.
Tater’s brief moment in the spotlight was actually part of a Nasa experiment aimed at testing the feasibility of transmitting live video over long distances in space. This could be useful when humans venture beyond Earth’s orbit in the future.
The Taters video was uploaded to the Psyche probe by the Deep Space Optical Communications team at the agency. The probe, which launched in October on a six-year journey to an asteroid, transmitted the video back to Earth on December 11th.
Bill Klipstein, the project manager for the tech demo at JPL, stated that one of their objectives is to showcase their capability of transmitting high-speed video over long distances. Since Psyche does not produce any video data, they typically send packets of randomly generated test data.
“In order to make this important occasion more unforgettable, we chose to collaborate with designers from JPL in order to produce an entertaining video.”
Although the Taters transmission covered a distance over 80 times greater than the distance between the Earth and the moon, it only took 101 seconds. This is quicker than the majority of broadband internet speeds on Earth.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) deemed it a significant achievement, with their deputy administrator, Pam Melroy, stating: “Expanding our bandwidth is crucial for reaching our future objectives in exploration and science. We are excited for the continued development of this technology and the changes it will bring to our communication during future missions to other planets.”