In an adorable test of the capabilities within their Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC), the folks at NASA used lasers to stream a 15 second ultra-high definition video of an orange cat named Taters chasing a laser pointer across the screen.
The video came from the Psyche spacecraft, which is traveling the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter 19 million miles (31 million kilometers) away from Earth. The signal took less than two minutes to reach its destination in San Diego, California.
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.