Newest Deep Space Network Antenna (DSN) Is Essential For NASA's Journey On Mars, Now Operational

First Posted: Oct 13, 2016 05:00 AM EDT

NASA has a new Deep Space Network (DSN) antenna and it is significant for NASA's journey to Mars. Currently, it is now officially in an operation and has begun collaborating with Mars Odyssey and Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) since October 1, 2016.

The NASA Deep Space Network (DSN) consists of the worldwide network of large antennas and communication facilities. They are situated in California, United States, Canberra, Australia and Madrid, Spain. It aims to support interplanetary spacecraft missions and execute radio and radar astronomy observations for the exploration of the universe and the solar system. It also supports the chosen Earth-orbiting missions.

The new antenna is the Deep Space Station-36 (DSS-36) in Canberra, Australia that became operational on October 1. It is a 34-meter (111 foot) Beam Waveguide (BWG) antenna and is built as part of the DSN Aperture Enhancement Project. This antenna is significant just like the other NASA's DSN. They would permit robotic and human missions to uplink and downlink larger amounts of science and telemetry, pursuing and commanding data back and forth from the planet Earth, according to NASA.

The DSN has been operational for more than 50 years. It delivers communication and tracking services to about 35 NASA and non-NASA missions. The existing antennas are parted by about 120 degrees of longitude. This is to guarantee that any spacecraft in deep space can communicate with at least one station at all times as the Earth rotates.

Currently, there are two antennas in Madrid, Spain that are under construction. The first antenna, DSS-56, is scheduled to be operational in October 2019 while DSS-53 will begin its operation in October 2020.

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