The U.S. space agency says an orange cat named Taters is the star of the first video sent by laser from deep space.
NASA’s Psyche spacecraft sent the 15-second video to Earth from 30 million kilometers in space. The video shows Taters as he chases a red laser light.
It took less than two minutes for the video to reach Caltech’s Palomar Observatory. The video quality is called ultra high-definition. It was sent at the test system’s maximum rate of 267 megabits per second.
NASA loaded the video into Psyche’s laser communication experiment before launching the spacecraft to visit a rare metal asteroid in October. The mission team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, decided to use an employee’s three-year-old cat.
The video was sent to Earth on December 11 and was released by NASA this week. The test sent the video faster than most internet connections here on Earth, said project leader Ryan Rogalin.
NASA wants to improve communications from deep space as it prepares efforts to send astronauts to the moon and possibly to the planet Mars. The laser test is meant to send data at rates up to 100 times greater than the radio systems currently used by spacecraft far from Earth.
More tests are planned as Psyche heads towards the main area of asteroids between the planets Mars and Jupiter. But Taters will not be making anymore appearances, JPL said.
Joby Harris is an art director in JPL’s DesignLab. He could not be any happier, but he does not want his cat’s new public attention to go to his head.
“I’m celebrating his spotlight with him but making sure he keeps his paws on the carpet,” Harris said in an email Tuesday.
I’m Jill Robbins.
Marcia Dunn reported this story for The Associated Press. Gregory Stachel adapted it for VOA Learning English.
Words in This Story
ultra – prefix extremely great or large
megabit – n. one million units of computer information represented as either 1 or 0
asteroid – n. any one of thousands of small planets that circle around the sun
to go to his head – idiom to let something you have done cause you to think of yourself as more important than you are
spotlight – n. public attention or notice
paw – n. the foot of an animal that has claws
carpet – n. a heavy fabric cover for a floor