The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention always features demonstrations of cutting-edge technologies, and this year is no exception. During the show next week, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will produce its first-ever live 4K video stream from the International Space Station (ISS) during a Super Session entitled “Reaching for the Stars: Connecting to the Future with NASA and Hollywood.”
The Super Session is co-produced by NAB, NASA, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) with its subsidiary Elemental Technologies, which are providing much of the infrastructure for the stream. Astronaut Peggy Whitson, currently serving as commander of Expedition 51 aboard the ISS, will converse in real time with AWS Elemental CEO and co-founder Sam Blackman, who will be at the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). Other participants at the LVCC will include astronauts Tracy Caldwell Dyson; Rodney Grubbs, NASA Imagery Experts Program Manager; Sam Matheny, Executive VP and CTO of NAB; Bernadette McDaid, Head of Development, VR & AR, Bau Entertainment; Khawaja Shams, Vice President of Engineering for AWS Elemental; and Dave McQueeney, Senior Principal Investigator, IBM Watson Group. The panel will be moderated by Carolyn Giardina, Technology Editor for the Hollywood Reporter.
The video will be captured by a Red Epic Dragon digital-cinema camera, which offers 6K resolution and high dynamic-range capabilities. However, the NASA stream will use 4K resolution (2160p) at 30 fps, and it will not be HDR. AWS Elemental HEVC (H.265) encoding software on the ISS will encode the stream, which will be sent to the Johnson Space Center at a bitrate of 18 Mbps. From there, the stream will be processed using AWS cloud-based workflow tools, delivered to the LVCC via satellite, and displayed on Christie 4K projectors.
If you’re going to NAB, the event will be held on Wednesday, April 26, 2017, at 10:30 AM Pacific time in room N249 of the LVCC. Attendees will learn how:
– 4K gives NASA scientists a clearer, crisper view of their experiments, Earth, and the solar system;
– Live 4K video will help take research to the next level and allow NASA scientists to share discoveries as they are happening instead of after the fact;
– The first-ever live 4K video and cloud-enabled workflow from space works and how it can help commercial space endeavors and content creation;
– Hollywood and NASA inspire one another and the fascinating, surprising outcomes of this decades-long collaboration.
If you won’t be at the show, you can still watch the stream by pointing your web browser here at 10:30 AM Pacific time on Wednesday April 26. (The program will also be available to view after the event at the same online location as well as on the NASA TV channel.) AWS Elemental recommends using the latest version of Chrome, Firefox, or Safari as the browser and a wired Ethernet connection instead of Wi-Fi for the best performance.
To see the stream at its maximum resolution, you’ll need a 4K display and available incoming bandwidth of more than 45 Mbps. If the capabilities of your system do not match these requirements, you will still be able to see it at lower resolution thanks to multi-bitrate delivery. The video player will automatically deliver the appropriate bitrate, from 4K to SD, for the available bandwidth.
For five things to know about this fascinating project—and some great footage from the ISS—check out this video: