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NASA beams down duet of video firsts from the ISS in outer space

nasa uses laser to beam hd video from space station first vine recorded wiseman 1
Astronaut Reid Wiseman recorded and uploaded the first Vine from the International Space Station. (Credit: Reid Wiseman)

NASA is making headlines again after successfully transmitting the first high-definition video from the International Space Station (ISS) to Earth. The video was sent on June 5, 2014 using a special piece of equipment that utilizes lasers to transmit data from space.

NASA's OPALS laser instrument, onboard the International Space Station, was used to send a video to Earth.
NASA’s OPALS laser instrument, onboard the International Space Station, was used to send a video to Earth.

The 148-second “Hello, World!” video message was the first sent by the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS), a laser instrument NASA is utilizing to test communication methods that use higher bandwidth than radio waves.

The space station orbits the planet at nearly 18,000 miles per hour, so the data transmission requires some precision targeting. According to NASA, OPALS locked onto a laser beacon emitted by the Optical Communications Telescope Laboratory in Wrightwood, Calif., and then modulated that beam back to the ground station to transmit the video. Reaching a maximum data transmission rate of 50 megabits per second, OPALS needed only 3.5 seconds to transmit copies of the video message. 

The OPALS Project is scheduled to to run for a prime mission of 90 days. The “Hello, World!” message, which is an homage to the first output of any standard computer program, can be viewed in the video below. 

That’s not the only recent first from the final frontier. Remember the popularity of the first Instagram selfie from space? At the time, the image created a huge buzz on the Web, and many people thought it couldn’t be topped. Well, think again Instagramers: astronaut Reid Wiseman has recorded and uploaded the first-ever Vine from outer space.

The 38-year-old former Naval aviator and test pilot took his first trip into orbit on May 28, when he touched down at the ISS. Having never ventured into outer space before, Wiseman took the opportunity to capture a time-lapse Vine video, in addition to various images of Earth.

Amazingly, the ability to transmit communications is becoming better with each NASA experiment. It probably won’t be long before longer, more complex messages can be sent from space…or imagine if we had the ability to communicate with others across galaxies, or even across the planet here on Earth. That idea seems like science fiction, but today’s increasingly developed technology could make it into a reality one day.

Wiseman’s Vine can be viewed below, and you can visit his Twitter account to check out some of his stellar images. 

(Via NASAPetaPixel)

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Chase Melvin
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