NASA has started to upload Ultra High Definition videos of outer space shot in 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution at 60 FPS (Frames Per Second) to YouTube. The first, and only such video that NASA has uploaded till now to the space organization’s ReelNASA YouTube channel, is a short 20-second teaser which shows off the vast expanse of space in all its glory. NASA meanwhile, promises more such videos will come over time. NASA had previously uploaded 4K content shot from its International Space station, but they were mostly time-lapse videos, made as a collage of still images rather than actual video content shot in 4K UHD. With technology advancing at breakneck speed, it is hard to imagine a time when people huddled around their television sets to watch grainy monochrome images served up by NASA, of the first lunar mission, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first ever humans to walk on moon.
Explaining its decision to upload 4K content on YouTube, NASA released the following statement on its ReelNASA channel. “The view of life in space is getting a major boost with the introduction of 4K Ultra High-Definition (UHD) video, providing an unprecedented look at what it’s like to live and work aboard the International Space Station. This important new capability will allow researchers to acquire high resolution – high frame rate video to provide new insight into the vast array of experiments taking place every day. It will also bestow the most breathtaking views of planet Earth and space station activities ever acquired for consumption by those still dreaming of making the trip to outer space”. The space agency also affirmed its commitment towards further 4K content in the future, by saying “Additional 4K-UHD videos will be coming to ReelNASA soon, so stay tuned”.
YouTube only started testing 4K, 60 FPS videos from late March this year, although, the popular video streaming site had started testing 4K content and 60 FPS videos separately, last year itself. The important point to note here is, with the amount of data that needs to be processed for these videos to be streamed over the internet and played on your computer, a lot of modern day computers will still be unable to play them without stuttering. While YouTube doesn’t provide any guidelines for minimum broadband speed to stream 4K videos from its servers, Netflix recommends a minimum of 25 Mbps for smooth, buffering-free viewing of UHD content.