With space pioneers of NASA announcing a new addition to their television network, we thought we’d take a look at Ultra High Definition displays and how they will partner with the new space channel.
The last few years have seen huge advancements in our understanding of space, and new technologies are getting us closer than ever to discovering what – and who – we share the universe with. From the discovery of “Earth 2.0” Kepler-452B to the New Horizons’ Pluto flyby, we’re learning more about the worlds outside our own every day. Today’s cameras are able to pick up far more detail and transmit information from much farther away, so we can see parts of the universe we’re currently unable to reach ourselves.
What’s more, modern technology is making these discoveries readily available for public viewing; online streaming and sharing channels allow these exciting images to be viewed from anywhere in the world. From November 2015, NASA will be streaming Ultra High Definition pictures and feeds from space via NASA 4K Television. Forming part of NASA’s network of space channels, the new service will be available online as well as through satellite and cable TV.
What is NASA Television?
NASA Television has existed as a network since the late 1980s, broadcasting educational programming, news and live feeds. Available on local cable and satellite at the carrier’s discretion, the network has also moved online in recent years. A public domain service, NASA Television is free to view and open to anyone.
Technology developments have allowed cameras to document much more than ever before, and these cameras have been integral in the advancement of space exploration. As well as gathering the required data, NASA is in a position to share these amazing images to the world, teaching us all what space is really like. However, the way we’ve been viewing these images isn’t really doing them justice; that’s where the new wave of High Definition (HD) television technology comes in useful.
Beginning on November 1, 2015, NASA has announced that a new channel is joining its network. This new service is NASA 4K Television, and it has got everyone very excited. Available via the Internet or cable, satellite and optical networks, the Ultra High Definition (UHD) stream will show the beauty of space in extreme, full color detail. Using the latest high quality television technology, NASA can help you get up close and personal with our neighbors in the solar system and discover everything we know beyond our own surroundings.
What is 4K television?
4K television is also known as Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV, and it’s the latest development in the visual tech world. With a broader range of color, sharper images and more comfortable viewing distances, 4K viewing is completely changing how shows and movies are filmed and displayed. Photography is able to more closely replicate reality using 4K technology, and smartphone and camera manufacturers are already seeking to bring it to our fingertips.
Where your standard HD TV gives you a full 1080p, you’ll get four times the performance with a UHD screen. That’s eight million pixels instead of two million. The higher frame rate and additional color capabilities finish off the effect, and huge images can be comfortably transmitted for viewing at close distances. This allows for cinema quality viewing in much smaller spaces. With an output of 3840 x 2160 and 60fps set as the current standard by leading manufacturers, the potential for a new kind of television viewing is there to bring home.
So far, manufacturers have only produced screens that are 50” or larger, so you still might be looking at a pricey investment if you want UHD right away. Prices on UHD computer equipment are still similarly high. However, just as with the first wave of HD screens, you can expect production to increase and prices to fall pretty quickly; before long, we’ll all be welcoming UHD into our homes, just as we did its earlier cousin. Some leading names in video and TV have already embraced 4K viewing, including YouTube and Netflix.
What is NASA bringing to the table?
NASA’s 4K TV has been announced as “North America’s first and only free non-commercial UHD channel.” The channel has been established through a partnership with Harmonic Inc. Harmonic is a leading video delivery infrastructure provider, involved in finding innovative communication solutions for major organizations. It aims to deliver NASA’s programming to all cable and satellite providers, as well as facilitating the online network.
This collaboration falls under the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, which allows NASA to form partnerships known as Space Agreement Acts with agencies that can support its goals. The work of NASA is available to the public, but we don’t always know quite what to make of abstract images and scientific theories. By creating original programming and revealing live feeds, the quest for space knowledge can be shared by the public and we can get a better look at just what is out there.
NASA already offers broadcasts from the International Space Station, but these will soon have a more permanent home and become a regular feature of the channel. We’ll be able to learn more about space missions and the people undertaking them, and we’ll see real images from space in beautiful UHD detail. NASA says it hopes to “showcase the beauty of space” and allow all of us to experience the worlds that very few will ever see in person.
How do you access the new channel?
Getting NASA 4K Television is relatively simple, as long as you’ve got access to UHD technology. Don’t worry if you don’t have an ultra-def television just yet, though; the great programming and amazing images will still be accessible via your standard HD monitor or screen. You just won’t quite get the full effect. If you’ve already made the upgrade to 4K viewing, you’ll really get to test NASA’s new channel when it launches. Those super-sized images in true color are a sight to behold.
NASA 4K Television is going to require a relatively high Internet speed. You’ll want a connection of at least 13Mbps to ensure that you can pick up the signal properly and correctly view the images. You will be able to watch from any Internet device: this includes cell phones and tablets. This high speed will guarantee transmission of those high-def images and give you uninterrupted viewing. You don’t want to lose the feed in the middle of an exciting live launch or news announcement!
Talks are in place between Harmonic and cable/satellite providers to get NASA Television into every region. Before long, you could be sitting down with the family to watch an evening of live space feeds, educational programming and more, right from your living room. In the future, NASA may get the opportunity to expand its program range further – depending on how well the channel is received and its ratings after the 4K launch.
What to expect from NASA TV
So just what will be shown on NASA Television? The first planned broadcasts include footage from recent space missions, still images and time lapse videos from around the universe and feeds from the International Space Station. This should give us a glimpse into where space travel has reached, and help us understand what space explorers are faced with in their work. We’ll also get the latest news and images as explorations progress. In the future, when events like the Pluto flyby take place, we should expect to see those images first via the NASA 4K network.
NASA has confirmed that archive footage is being remastered for UHD. Famous video images and clips never before seen by the public are also intended to form part of the channel’s broadcasts. Cleaned up digitally and sharper than ever, viewers will be able to spot new details in old footage and see historic missions more clearly.
We’ve already been given a little insight into the sheer scale and beauty of 4K imagery with NASA’s panoramic photograph of the Andromeda Galaxy. Released in January 2015, the awe-inspiring image was widely shared across the Internet and sparked a fresh interest in space. Using the Hubble Space Telescope and over 7,000 separate images, the mosaic takes in 100 million stars across a distance of 61,000 light years. That’s the kind of image we can expect more of as NASA’s space technology creates more advanced images and we develop the ability to properly display them.
The best showcase for UHD and space technology
Bringing the work NASA does together with the latest advances in entertainment may well prove to be a stroke of genius. People are fascinated by space and want to know more, but information isn’t all that accessible beyond long lectures and old textbooks. NASA has made great efforts to reach out online and the discoveries of space are more available to us than ever before, but this new wave of space television could bring those discoveries into everyone’s living rooms.
4K technology is a great place for NASA to show off its findings, and the partnership should work out pretty well for the UHD market too. What better way to highlight a television’s capabilities than through demonstrating the display with NASA’s images? Together, the incredible technology and the stunning images are going to be the perfect partners (keep an eye out in the future for our breakdown of the best 4K UHD television sets). Although the current market focuses more on luxury models than the wider public’s needs and budgets, it won’t be long before we’re all watching UHD sets at home.
Don’t miss the launch of NASA 4K Television on November 1, 2015. Access the NASA website for further details, and follow the links to the live channel stream. We’re very excited to see what NASA has to show us all, and we’re looking forward to seeing the upcoming new and remastered space footage.
90's girl with a love of retro games and old school consoles - currently in the market for a working Commodore 64...
Latest posts by Kat A. (see all)
- NASA’s MAVEN Project: Revealing what happened to Mars’ atmosphere - Nov 6, 2015
- 7 things to know about the discovery of water on Mars - Oct 1, 2015
- NASA’s 4k TV channel: What is it and why you should watch it - Sep 14, 2015