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Video from space processed in the cloud

Space station twirl
Astronaut Andrew Morgan does a zero-gravity flip on the International Space Station with a push from his two NASA crewmates, Christina Koch and Jessica Meir. (NASA via YouTube)

Amazon Web Services and NASA have demonstrated how cloud-based video processing can distribute live streams from space, with a shout-out from the International Space Station.

The demonstration took center stage today in Los Angeles at the annual meeting of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, or SMPTE.

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Facebook, Microsoft set deepfake detection contest

Deepfake detection
Deepfake detection software developed at the University of California at Berkeley analyzed head tilt and facial mannerisms to determine that this video of President Donald Trump was faked. (Berkeley Video)info

Facebook says it’s working with Microsoft, the Partnership for AI and an international team of academics to create the Deepfake Detection Challenge, a competition to develop better tools for flagging faked videos.

“We are also funding research collaborations and prizes for the challenge to help encourage more participation,” Facebook’s chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer, said today in a blog posting. “In total, we are dedicating more than $10 million to fund this industry-wide effort.”

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EarthNow fleshes out planetary video plan

EarthNow satellite
An artist’s conception shows one of EarthNow’s satellites in orbit, equipped with four telescopic cameras. (EarthNow Illustration)

BELLEVUE, Wash. — A satellite startup called EarthNow is laying out the details of its plan to blanket our planet with high-resolution, real-time, live-video coverage from a 500-satellite constellation in orbit, with support from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, Europe’s Airbus, Japan’s SoftBank Group and other high-profile backers.

The revelations come a year after Bellevue-based EarthNow raised $6.6 million in a seed investment round from those financial backers.

“The purpose of the seed phase was to make absolutely sure that we could do this,” founder and CEO Russell Hannigan told GeekWire.

If a follow-up Series A round comes together the way Hannigan and his team hope in the next couple of months, the venture could launch its first experimental “pathfinder” satellites by the end of 2020, setting the stage for a wave of operational satellites in 2022.

Hannigan discussed EarthNow’s roadmap last week during an interview at Intellectual Ventures’ Bellevue headquarters, which currently serves as the spin-out’s base of operations. He’ll be discussing the details with other satellite industry executives this week at the SmallSat Symposium in San Jose, Calif.

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Amazon Studios lays out plan for must-see sci-fi TV

Snow Crash book cover art
Seattle author Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash” tells the story of a pizza-delivering, sword-wielding computer whiz. (Turtleback Books)

In its quest to find the next “Game of Thrones,” Amazon Studios is reportedly adding three science-fiction series to its list of production prospects, including Seattle author Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash.”

The two other projects mentioned in Variety’s report would be based on Larry Niven’s “Ringworld” and Greg Rucka’s “Lazarus” comic book.

Variety quoted from an internal email in which studio head Roy Price said he was “bullish” about the lineup emerging for 2018 and 2019. “The biggest takeaway is that once again, our overall content investment is increasing, which will allow us to continue to meet customer demand around the world for high quality and engaging programming,” Price was quoted as saying.

We reached out to Amazon, but the company says there’s nothing to report beyond what’s been written.

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First live ultra-HD video beamed from space

Whitson and Fischer
As NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson looks on, crewmate Jack Fischer jokes that “you can probably see into my pores” during the first’ever live 4K UHD video feed from the International Space Station. (NASA via YouTube)

NASA and AWS Elemental showed off something completely different from the International Space Station today: the first live video in ultra-high-definition 4K detail beamed down from space.

The technical achievement was as important as what the audience at the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual Las Vegas expo saw on the big screen – and what internet users around the world could see on 4K UHD devices.

“My thought was, ‘Wow, am I glad all this was working,’” Rodney Grubbs, program manager for NASA Imagery Experts, said afterward during an NAB panel. NASA has put plenty of 4K UHD videos online, but this was the first time it did live video streaming in 4K UHD.

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Amazon plays role in space video milestone

Peggy Whitson on ISS
The International Space Station’s commander, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, will chat with AWS Elemental’s CEO during the first space-to-Earth live stream to make use of ultra-high-definition video. (NASA Photo)

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson stars in the highest-resolution video ever broadcast live from the International Space Station, bur Amazon Web Services plays a supporting role.

The 4K ultra-high-definition live stream, set to start at 10:30 a.m. PT (1:30 p.m. ET) April 26, makes use of a UHD-capable video encoder from AWS Elemental that was sent up to the space station just last December aboard a Japanese cargo craft.

The video link also takes advantage of a UHD-ready RED Epic Dragon digital camera aboard the station. NASA has sent down 4K UHD footage before, but not as a live stream.

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Hyperlapse video shows off UW campus

UW in Motion video
Charles Johnson’s “UW in Motion” hyperlapse video puts some extra zap into campus scenes. (Charles Johnson via YouTube)

What is hyperlapse? Like the bullet-time realm of “The Matrix,” hyperlapse videos provide an unorthodox perspective on time and space – and you can see the result in a two-minute clip created by the University of Washington’s Charles Johnson.

The technique captures time-lapse videos of an environment, with an additional twist: Instead of remaining stationary, the camera moves through the scene, making it seems as if you’re soaring through a speeded-up space-time continuum.

“If you follow my work, you know that for the past six months I’ve been getting into hyperlapse photography,” Johnson, a videographer and editor for University of Washington Intercollegiate Athletics, said today in a Facebook post. “I’ve been slowly collecting hyperlapses of the UW campus to make an official UW hyperlapse edit, and I’m glad to [be] finally able to release it in time for the UW 2017 Maker Summit!”

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Stephen Hawking tours 5 favorite cosmic places

Stephen Hawking
A scene from “Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places” shows the good doctor and his heads-up display in a CGI-created spaceship called the S.S. Hawking. (Credit: CuriosityStream)

You’d think that physicist Stephen Hawking’s favorite place on Earth would be his native England, but it’s actually someplace completely different – as he explains in a new 25-minute documentary from CuriosityStream.

“Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places” is an exclusive offering from the online video-on-demand channel, founded last year by John Hendricks, who was the mastermind behind the Discovery Channel. It’s the first episode in what’s expected to be a series of original “Favorite Places” features, supplementing CuriosityStream’s library of science documentaries from the BBC and other providers.

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‘Martian’ spin-off video tackles sleep in space

Image: Sleeping astronaut
Do sleeping astronauts have to worry about being tied down in zero-G? (Credit: Fox / Armed Mind)

How do you get your Z’s in zero-G? Sleeping in space is one of the subjects tackled in a new video series from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment that capitalizes on the buzz generated by “The Martian.”

Fox’s “Life in Space” series is aimed at stirring up interest in today’s release of “The Martian” on DVD and Blu-ray. And speaking of “stirring,” one of the key issues on the International Space Station has to do with getting sufficient shut-eye without floating into your crewmate’s bunk.

NASA astronaut Drew Feustel, a veteran of two space shuttle flights, handles the question in a 46-second clip. It turns out that the accommodations are cozier than you might think.

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The moon photobombs Earth!

Moon and Earth
The moon passes across Earth’s disk in a July 16 image captured by the DSCOVR satellite from its observation point, a million miles out in space. The Americas and the Pacific Ocean are visible beneath Earth’s cloud cover. Because the moon was moving while DSCOVR acquired the data for this three-filter image, there appears to be a thin green offset on the right side of the moon’s disk, and red and blue offsets on the left. (Credit: NASA / NOAA)

The Deep Space Climate Observatory, better known as DSCOVR, is designed to provide full-disk, sunlit views of our home planet from a vantage point a million miles away. But every so often, the moon crosses through the frame. Today, NASA released the first amazing photobomb sequence.

The perspective from DSCOVR’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (a.k.a. EPIC), captured on July 16, provides a topsy-turvy view: Here we’re seeing the moon’s far side, which earthbound skywatchers can never observe. And although it looks like a full moon, on Earth the moon was in its totally dark, “new” phase.

This isn’t the first lunar photobombing: NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft caught the moon crossing Earth’s half-lit disk back in 2008. But when DSCOVR goes into full operation next month and starts sending back near-real-time images, we can expect to see a new-moon photobomb roughly twice a year.

Launched in February, DSCOVR is a joint mission of NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with the twin objectives of making climate observations and keeping watch for incoming solar storms.

The Earth-watching part of the mission follows through on an idea put forward by Vice President Al Gore back in the 1990s – and the former veep was obviously tickled to see the latest pictures released from NASA’s lockbox:

A version of this item was published August 5, 2015, on GeekWire. For more from Alan Boyle, check out the Cosmic Log Google+ archive.