NASA Breaks Ground on New Deep Space Network Antennas

Feb 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: Total lunar eclipse before dawn on April 4th

Related Stories

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

Nov 09, 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 ...

TDRS spacecraft pass system level reviews

Feb 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.

NASA commemorates its 50th anniversary

Sep 06, 2007

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

Spacecraft Talk Continued During JPL Wildfire Threat

Sep 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 ...

Saturn's Icy Moon Iapetus

Jan 04, 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 ...

Recommended for you

Total lunar eclipse before dawn on April 4th

9 hours ago

An unusually brief total eclipse of the Moon will be visible before dawn this Saturday, April 4th, from western North America. The eclipse happens on Saturday evening for Australia and East Asia.

Cassini: Return to Rhea

22 hours ago

After a couple of years in high-inclination orbits that limited its ability to encounter Saturn's moons, NASA's Cassini spacecraft returned to Saturn's equatorial plane in March 2015.

Comet dust—planet Mercury's 'invisible paint'

Mar 30, 2015

A team of scientists has a new explanation for the planet Mercury's dark, barely reflective surface. In a paper published in Nature Geoscience, the researchers suggest that a steady dusting of carbon from p ...

It's 'full spin ahead' for NASA soil moisture mapper

Mar 30, 2015

The 20-foot (6-meter) "golden lasso" reflector antenna atop NASA's new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory is now ready to wrangle up high-resolution global soil moisture data, following the successful ...

What drives the solar cycle?

Mar 30, 2015

You can be thankful that we bask in the glow of a relatively placid star. Currently about halfway along its 10 billion year career on the Main Sequence, our sun fuses hydrogen into helium in a battle against ...

User comments : 0

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.