What does NASA’s Deep Space Network do?

We take a look at the capabilities of this great network of radio telescopes

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The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex in Australia

The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex in Australia

Asked by Abbie Hannah

The Deep Space Network is NASA’s international array of giant radio antennas, which is capable of supporting spacecraft on interplanetary missions as well as those that are put in orbit around Earth. The array is also able to make astronomical observations of our Solar System and the larger universe using radar and radio wavelengths. It’s the largest and most sensitive scientific telecommunications system in the world.

Currently, the network consists of communication complexes about 120 degrees apart and based in California, Spain and Australia, with each facility situated in partially mountainous, bowl-shaped terrain to assist with shielding against interference from other radio sources. In a clever twist, the 120-degree placement means that spacecraft can continually be observed as the Earth spins on its axis.

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