Get to know the Deep Space Network (DSN)NASA’s worldwide radio telescope array that communicates with spacecraft throughout the solar method.
As the World Turns: The DSN is Earth’s only global spacecraft communication network
The Deep Space Network has facilities – at Goldstone, Calif.; near Madrid, Spain; and Canberra, Australia, all with multiple parabolic dish antennas, including dish each that is 230 feet (70 meters) across. Located about 120 degrees apart around Earth, the position of the complexes provides round-the-clock coverage of the solar method. (A telescope needs a direct line of sight to “speak” with a spacecraft.)
Little Step: The DSN showed us the first moonwalk
That’s little step for man. 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 Method Ambassador: DSN relays first close-up views of other planets
The historic network enabled the world to see the first-ever picture of Mars, obtained by NASA’s Mariner four spacecraft in 1965. Mariner ten 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, and some of their rings and moons. The DSN also relayed Voyager 1’s portrait of Earth from 6 billion miles away, the iconic picture Carl Sagan called “The Pale Blue Dot,” as well as the spacecraft’s entry in to interstellar space.
Now Listen to This: The DSN speaks with 33 spacecraft
In the work of 1963, the DSN’s first year of operation, it communicated with spacecraft. In 2013, space is a much busier place. The DSN is currently communicating with 33 spacecraft across the solar method. The DSN sends commands to spacecraft and receives telemetry, engineering and scientific knowledge.
Not NASA: The DSN relays knowledge on behalf of international space agencies
While the DSN tracks, sends commands to and receives knowledge 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 is 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 is radar science, in which waves are bounced off objects such as passing asteroids to generate 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.