Explaining the First Ultra-HD Video Sent From Deep Space via Laser
This "cheat sheet" shows an annotated screenshot from the first ultra-high definition video streamed from deep space via a laser. NASA's Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) experiment aboard the recently launched Psyche spacecraft sent the 15-second video, which features an orange tabby cat named Taters chasing a red laser, back to Earth on Dec. 11, 2023.
The graphics overlaying the still from the video illustrate several elements related to the DSOC technology demonstration, such as Psyche's orbital path, the telescope dome at Caltech's Palomar Observatory, and technical information about the laser and its data bit rate. The heart rate, color, and breed of the star of the video, who lives with an employee of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is on display as well. Each element of the graphic is numbered, and a color-coded numerical key is provided below the image.
The video was transmitted from nearly 19 million miles (31 million kilometers) away. The signal took about 101 seconds to reach Earth. The video was sent at the system's maximum bit rate of 267 megabits per second. Capable of sending and receiving near-infrared signals, DSOC's flight laser transceiver – a cutting-edge instrument aboard Psyche – beamed an encoded near-infrared laser to the Hale Telescope at Palomar in San Diego County, California, where it was downloaded. Each frame from the looping video was then sent "live" to JPL, where the video was played, in real time.
Managed by JPL, DSOC is the latest in a series of optical communication demonstrations funded by the Technology Demonstration Missions (TDM) program within NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate and Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program within the agency's Space Operations Mission Directorate.
For more information about DSOC, visit: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/dsoc