Space is no longer the final frontier for 4K/Ultra HD as NASA has teamed with video delivery infrastructure firm Harmonic to launch the first consumer Ultra HD channel in North America.
Using an end-to-end Ultra HD video delivery system from Harmonic, NASA TV UHD will deliver live and linear 2160p60 video ambient content to a range of TV and IP-connected devices. NASA TV UHD video is being sourced from high-resolution images and video generated on the International Space Station (ISS), Hubble Space Telescope, and other current NASA missions. Programming will also include remastered footage from historical missions, shots from NASA's development and training processes, and ultimately live launches.
A test signal of NASA TV UHD is currently available on the AMC 18C satellite, with an expected launch date of 1 November 2015. In a similar way to the current NASA TV channels and on the same transponder, NASA TV UHD will be transmitted via the AMC-18C satellite, in the clear, with a North American footprint.
Harmonic is currently in discussions with pay-TV operators to carry the channel on their satellite DTH, cable and optical networks, for consumer access. The channel will also be streamed on the Internet, which will require at least 13 Mbps access connectivity to receive the signal and achieve the Ultra HD experience.
Content transmitted from NASA's Atlanta uplink facility will be remotely produced by Harmonic and a key element in the Ultra HD workflow is Harmonic's Electra X3 media processor, supporting resolutions up to 2160p60 (HEVC Main 10) for broadcast and OTT multiscreen delivery. NASA and Harmonic have also begun discussions about adding high dynamic range (HDR) and expanded colour-space technologies to the channel as standards emerge. Some testing is expected before the end of the year.
“As NASA reaches new heights and reveals the unknown, the NASA TV UHD channel can bring that journey to life in every home. And as organizations at the forefront of innovation, together we are leading the adoption of this exciting technology," commented Harmonic CMO Peter Alexander. “As the leader in UHD development, Harmonic provides a complete solution for Ultra HD video production and delivery, enabling content and service providers to offer better video quality at a low total cost of ownership.”