[meteorite-list] Eight Essential Facts About NASA's Deep Space Network

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu, 19 Dec 2013 12:28:09 -0800 (PST)
Message-ID: <201312192028.rBJKS9MM025392_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Eight Essential Facts About NASA's Deep Space Network
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
December 18, 2013

Get to know the Deep Space Network (DSN)-NASA's worldwide radio
telescope array that communicates with spacecraft throughout the solar

As the World Turns: The DSN is Earth's only global spacecraft
communication network

The Deep Space Network has three facilities - at Goldstone, Calif.; near
Madrid, Spain; and Canberra, Australia, all with multiple parabolic dish
antennas, including one dish each that is 230 feet (70 meters) across.
Located about 120 degrees apart around Earth, the placement of the
complexes provides round-the-clock coverage of the solar system. (A
telescope needs a direct line of sight to "speak" with a spacecraft.)

One Small Step: The DSN showed us the first moonwalk

"That's one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind." The DSN
received and relayed to the world the first TV images of astronaut Neil
Armstrong setting foot on the surface of the moon in 1969.

Solar System Ambassador: DSN relays first close-up views of other planets

The historic network enabled the world to see the first-ever image of
Mars, obtained by NASA's Mariner 4 spacecraft in 1965. Mariner 10
returned images of Mercury's surface in 1974. NASA's twin Voyager
spacecraft were the first to fly by Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus,
capturing the first close-up images of these planets, plus some of their
rings and moons. The DSN also relayed Voyager 1's portrait of Earth from
6 billion miles away, the iconic image Carl Sagan called "The Pale Blue
Dot," as well as the spacecraft's entry into interstellar space.

Now Hear This: The DSN speaks with 33 spacecraft

During 1963, the DSN's first year of operation, it communicated with
three spacecraft. In 2013, space is a much busier place. The DSN is
currently communicating with 33 spacecraft across the solar system. The
DSN sends commands to spacecraft and receives telemetry, engineering and
scientific data.

Not Just NASA: The DSN relays data on behalf of international space agencies

While the DSN tracks, sends commands to and receives data from all NASA
spacecraft beyond the moon, the network also supports spacecraft from
the European Space Agency, Japanese Space Agency and Indian Space Agency.

There's Always Room for Science: The DSN is used for scientific observation

In addition to its crucial role in two-way spacecraft communication, DSN
dishes make direct science observations. There's radar science, in which
waves are bounced off objects such as passing asteroids to create radar
images; radio science, where changes in the steady radio link between a
spacecraft and the DSN reveal the internal structure of another world;
radio astronomy, which looks at naturally occurring radio sources such
as pulsars and quasars; and geodetic measurements, which reveal changes
in the crust of Earth by tracking how long it takes a radio signal from
a quasar or other astronomical source to reach different telescopes.

Houston, We've Had a Problem: Apollo 13 relied on the DSN in its hour
of need.

The DSN was called on to support the nerve-wracking Apollo 13 mission
after the rupture of an oxygen tank forced NASA to abort the planned
lunar landing. During the critical re-entry of the capsule, it was
essential that engineers on the ground maintain contact with the
astronauts on board. The spacecraft's minimal power was needed for
re-entry, with little left over for communications. The DSN was able to
capture the "whispers from space," and helped bring home safely Jim
Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise.

Animal Planet: Each DSN facility has a different critter companion

Each of the three DSN facilities around the globe has a different native
species as an unofficial mascot. Goldstone in the California desert has
burros; Madrid has bulls; and Canberra, Australia, has kangaroos.

More information about the Deep Space Network and its 50th anniversary
celebration can be found at http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/dsn50 .

David Israel 818-354-4797
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
david.israel at jpl.nasa.gov

Received on Thu 19 Dec 2013 03:28:09 PM PST

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