NASA recently achieved a major feat by successfully transmitting a video to Earth from almost 19 million miles in space. This was a historic milestone for the agency as it showed the possibilities for humans to send visual messages from locations beyond Earth’s orbit.
An orange tabby cat by the name of Taters, who was the star of this cosmic show, was filmed on Earth, and the video was onto the Psyche spacecraft before NASA launched it in October. The spacecraft went on a mission to explore the metal-rich asteroid 16 Psyche in the asteroid belt. When it was far enough to be considered in deep space, it used a near-infrared laser to send the cat video back to Earth. And it actually worked! Here are the details.
NASA Tested Deep Space Communication
Ryan Rogalin, the receiver electronics lead for the project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, shared a 15-second video of Taters chasing a laser. It took the signal less than two minutes to reach Earth, and the video quality was in ultra-high definition.
This is a speed that surpasses the typical broadband internet connections. The project extended existing satellite technology to deep space, proving that the technology can transmit data over vast distances. Time to message the aliens?
A Cat Video Sent From an Asteroid Belt?
NASA’s decision to use a cat video was not arbitrary. Designers debated the choice, aiming for a meaningful and fun transmission. The clip of Taters was a placeholder at first but became a fitting choice as it paid homage to Felix the Cat and showcased the laser technology that was used for it. The video also included overlaid graphics showing Psyche’s orbital path, laser technical details, and Taters’s color, pattern, and heart rate.
The cat’s space debut was the first in a series of experiments that will be done with the Psyche spacecraft. Video transmissions will be done weekly as the spacecraft moves away from Earth until it gets to a distance similar to Mars in mid-2024. The goal is to demonstrate the reliability and robustness of the technology, turning it into a practical and consistent tool.
The technology involves infrared lasers that transmit much more information than the radio waves that are still commonly used by NASA.
And while Taters may not star in any future experiments, he already played a crucial role in adding a touch of delight to this significant achievement. NASA visual strategist Joby Harris, who is Taters’ owner, pointed out that using simple and relatable elements like cats was crucial in making complex topics more engaging for the general public.
We might as well stop right here in 2022 since things won’t get much better. For the first time, the public has selected the Oxford Word of the Year, and no one would be shocked if the choice is never made public again. ‘Goblin mode’ has been named the official Oxford Word of the Year for 2022.
Goblin Mode Has Been Popular, Apparently
This year saw a surge in the popularity of the term ‘goblin mode,’ defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “a type of behavior that is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations.” The phrase was trending on the Internet this year.
There is something so gratifying about imagining Oxford’s leading lexicographers attempting to come up with an eloquent explanation for a phrase that is as excruciatingly online and unruly as ‘goblin mode.’ Before the voting, which included 340,000 people who speak English in diverse parts of the world, Oxford University Press provided them with three distinct options for the “word of the year” in 2022. With 93 percent of the total vote or 318,956 votes, ‘goblin mode’ was able to secure an impressive victory in this round of voting. “Metaverse,” the virtual reality arena that enables users to connect with one other in a computer-generated world, came in second place with 14,484 votes.
What the President of Oxford Languages Says
They had hoped that the public would enjoy being drawn into the process, but this degree of engagement with the campaign caught them by complete and utter surprise. Casper Grathwohl, the president of Oxford Languages, made this observation. According to him, the volume of responses demonstrates the vital importance of having a robust vocabulary o comprehend who we are and make sense of the events unfolding in the world around us.
Casper Grathwohl also shares that in light of the year that has just passed, the term ‘goblin mode’ speaks to all of us who are feeling a little overwhelmed now. This is something that resonates with us all. It is a relieving realization that we’re not always the idealized and curated versions of ourselves that we’re urged to show on our Instagram and TikTok feeds. This is something that can be a source of pressure for many people.