No one is traveling to or from the International Space Station (ISS) right now thanks to the recent Soyuz launch failure, but data continues to flow freely. NASA maxed out its connection recently to beam a lovely 8K ultra high-definition (UHD) video down to Earth. It’s the first 8K video filmed in space, and you can watch it right now from the comfort of your couch. Although, you will need an 8K display to enjoy the video in its full glory, and you probably don’t have one of those.
Astronauts aboard the ISS have had access to all manner of cameras as technology has advanced over the years. They’ve gone from 1080p HD, to 360-degree cameras, to 4K. Now, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have shipped a new Helium 8K camera by RED to the ISS. 8K video has about eight times as many pixels as full HD with a resolution of 8,192 x 4,320. The camera actually arrived in April aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule, but the agency only now got around to producing a video with it.
The video follows astronauts going about their daily grind, floating around and doing science. There are also some awesome shots of Earth from the station, as well as the station’s exterior. NASA was so kind as to provide a description on YouTube of what we’re seeing in the footage, too. Early on, we see the Minus Eighty-Degree Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI), which maintains extremely low temperatures for experiments. The frosty air rolling off the surface looks almost surreal in 8K. There’s also some footage (around 21 and 57 seconds) of the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) and Plant Habitat-1, which help scientists understand how plants grow in space.
Outside the station, you can catch a glimpse of the cupola module as its window coverings retract around the one-minute mark. At 1:55, you can see what it’s like inside that module. NASA included footage of Earth shot from the ISS at 33 seconds and 1:21.
The YouTube video above has an 8K option, but you’ll have to enable it manually. You will need one of the very few (and very expensive) 8K displays on the market to enjoy every pixel. You will need substantial bandwidth to stream it at 8K as well. It still looks fantastic in lower resolutions, though. For a better experience, you can download the full three-minute video from NASA’s website. It clocks in at 3.1GB in an MP4 container.