NASA Breaks Ground on New Deep Space Network Antennas

February 25, 2010
NASA's Deep Space Network is building new antennas to improve communications and the first phase will take place at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex in Australia. This image of the Canberra complex shows four Deep Space Network antennas. The Deep Space Network is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Image credit: NASA/JPL/CDSCC

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA officials broke ground near Canberra, Australia on Wednesday, Feb. 24, beginning a new antenna-building campaign to improve Deep Space Network communications.

Following the recommendations of an independent study, embarked on an ambitious project to replace its aging fleet of 70-meter-wide (230-foot-wide) dishes with a new generation of 34-meter (112-foot) antennas by 2025.

The three 70-meter antennas, located at the NASA Deep Space Network complexes at Goldstone, Calif., Madrid, Spain, and Canberra, are more than 40 years old and show wear and tear from constant use.

The new antennas, known as "beam wave guide" antennas, can be used more flexibly, allowing the network to operate on several different frequency bands within the same . Their electronic equipment is more accessible, making maintenance easier and less costly. The new antennas also can receive higher-frequency, wider-bandwidth signals known as the "Ka band." This band, required for new NASA missions approved after 2009, allows the newer antennas to carry more data than the older ones.

In the first phase of the project near Canberra, NASA expects to complete the building of up to three 34-meter antennas by 2018. The decision to begin construction came on the 50th anniversary of U.S. and Australian cooperation in space tracking operations.

"There is no better way to celebrate our 50 years of collaboration and partnership in exploring the heavens with the government of Australia than our renewed commitment and investment in new capabilities required for the next five decades," said Badri Younes, deputy associate administrator for Space Communications and Navigation at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Space Communications and Navigation is responsible for managing all NASA space communications and navigation resources and their operations. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory manages the agency's , an important component of the agency's space communications resources.

NASA's goal is to integrate all NASA communications resources into a unified, far more capable network. Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization manages the communication complex near Canberra for NASA.

Explore further: Saturn's Icy Moon Iapetus

Related Stories

Saturn's Icy Moon Iapetus

January 4, 2005

NASA's Cassini spacecraft successfully flew by Saturn's moon Iapetus at a distance of 123,400 kilometers (76,700 miles) on Friday, Dec. 31. NASA's Deep Space Network tracking station in Goldstone, Calif., received the signal ...

NASA commemorates its 50th anniversary

September 6, 2007

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has joined with Discovery Communications to commemorate the U.S. space agency's 50th anniversary.

NASA Unveils New Antenna Network in White Sands, N.M.

November 9, 2007

Engineers from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., showcased the new 18-meter Ka Band Antenna Network, the first such system in agency history, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the White Sands Test ...

Spacecraft Talk Continued During JPL Wildfire Threat

September 10, 2009

As the flames of the raging brush fire dubbed the Station Fire threatened the northern edge of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory on Saturday, Aug. 29, the managers of NASA's Deep Space Network prepared for the worst.

TDRS spacecraft pass system level reviews

February 22, 2010

NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) K-L program completed its Critical Design Review (CDR) and Production Readiness Review (PRR) in El Segundo, Calif. on Feb. 19.

Recommended for you

Born-again planetary nebula

July 28, 2015

Beneath the vivid hues of this eye-shaped cloud, named Abell 78, a tale of stellar life and death is unfolding. At the centre of the nebula, a dying star – not unlike our Sun – which shed its outer layers on its way to ...

The search for molecular oxygen among cosmic oxygen atoms

July 27, 2015

Oxygen is the third most abundant element in the universe (after hydrogen and helium) and of course it is important: all known life forms require liquid water and its oxygen content. For over thirty years, astronomers have ...

Hubble looks in on a galactic nursery

July 27, 2015

This dramatic image shows the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope's view of dwarf galaxy known as NGC 1140, which lies 60 million light-years away in the constellation of Eridanus. As can be seen in this image NGC 1140 has an ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.