The vast beauty of space is about to look even more beautiful on your computer screen. Starting today, NASA will offer "4K Ultra High-Definition (UHD)" videos on YouTube, taking advantage of the site's relatively new ability to serve up 4K videos at a super smooth frame rate of 60 frames per second.
The first UHD video, seen above, is a (frustratingly) short tease of the beautiful moving images that are sure to come. It was posted to one of NASA's YouTube accounts, ReelNASA, which is a home for much of the International Space Station's video content.
Here's hoping they work on your computer
While we've seen some 4K videos from the ISS in the past (like this gorgeous one from the ESA, or this one posted to ReelNASA earlier this week), they have typically been time lapses made from large batches of still photos, which required lots of time and editing. NASA figuring out a way to download near-real-time UHD video means the 4K content could make it to the internet much faster. Of course, many computers still struggle to support 4K video, let alone the ones running at 60fps.
Now excuse me while I try to get NASA in touch with Lucasfilm's new VR team.
Update June 15th, 6:13PM ET: NASA has uploaded a much longer 4K reel, albeit not in 60fps. The results are still truly stunning, particularly the footage of the astronauts at work. Short of an IMAX film, we've never seen them maneuvering in space with this much clarity and detail, and it brings the magical reality of the orbiting laboratory that is space station closer than ever before. Watching Scott Kelly strain his muscles while working with some machinery, or the eyes of Samantha Cristoforetti dart around while she floats in front of the camera is, frankly, spellbinding. Even Terry Virts assembling the normally vile-looking "space cheeseburger" is a sight to behold. NASA promises more 4K videos are on the way, so this is only the beginning.