Washington: Reports indicate that NASA has begun a new antenna-building campaign near Canberra, Australia, to improve Deep Space Network communications.
Following the recommendations of an independent study, NASA has 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, California, 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 antenna.
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.
NASA’s goal is to integrate all NASA communications resources into a unified, far more capable network.
First Published: Friday, February 26, 2010, 16:32