Taters the Cat Streams From Deep Space for NASA

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson

Cat playing with laser pointer is used by NASA to measure band-with between deep space and Earth.

Photo Credit: Darryl Fonseka / Shutterstock.com

Taters doesn’t care that he played an integral role in NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications initiative this month. He also doesn’t care that a video of him transmitted from a location over 31 million kilometers away, went viral. What he does care about is where that dang laser light went to.

Yes, Taters, the four-legged fur-kid of a Jet Propulsion Laboratory employee earned his claim to social media fame when an ultra-high-definition video of him at play was uploaded to the Psyche spacecraft just before its travel last October to the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. In December it was transmitted back to Mission Support on Earth and then shared with the world.

Lasting just 15 seconds, the video shows three-year-old Taters doing his cat thing as he bounced and pounced around on a sofa trying to catch the light from a standard laser pointer.  According to a NASA Project Manager, they wanted it to be fun and therefore memorable. Well, they ticked that box and more. Taking just 101 seconds for the recorded video to stream back to Earth, the experiment was considered a big success and a huge step forward in streaming high-bandwidth video and other data from deep space. Possibly, paving the way to one day send a human to Mars.

Big stuff!

But back to Taters and that laser pointer. Now, if you’re like me and you’ve heard horror stories about people being blinded by laser pointers (fact, fiction or urban legend?) you may be wondering whether Taters should have been batting around a catnip toy rather than a beam from a laser.

Truth is, this type of high-tech toy is a perfectly safe way to get your cat up, moving, and channeling that hunt/pounce instinct if used correctly. A couple of tips:

·        Don’t try to grab his attention by shining the light on his face/eyes. Perhaps obvious, but worth mentioning for those new to this type of play. Shine the light just a few feet away and let him catch up to it every so often.

·        Don’t over-exert your puss… because once he starts the chase, he won’t stop till he catches that elusive beam (and we know that ain’t going to happen).

·        Don’t have multiple cats chasing the same beam of light. It’s not a competition and it won’t end well if you have two (or more) determined felines stalking a moving target.

As for California-based Taters, with well over 35,000 YouTube views of his escapades, his antics have almost garnered more press and support than the NASA experiment. Lesson here? Never try to upstage a cat. You won’t win.

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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