Deep Space Network

The Deep Space Network has antennae in Australia, Spain and Goldstone, Calif., as shown here, which relay messages between Juno and Earth. Credit: public domain. The Deep Space Network has antennae in Australia, Spain and Goldstone, Calif., as shown here, which relay messages between Juno and Earth. Credit: public domain.

Messages from Juno and other spacecraft in the far reaches of the solar system are relayed to scientists via NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN), which was created in 1958. DSN consists of three sets of powerful radio antennae spaced about 120 degrees longitude apart around the world near Barstow, Calif., Canberra, Australia, and Madrid, Spain. The complexes are all situated in bowl-shaped terrain in semi-mountainous rural areas to minimize interference from external radio waves. As Earth rotates, at least one of the DSN antennae is pointed toward the spacecraft at all times. Communications via DSN begin and end at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the system.

Harvey Leifert

Leifert is a freelance science writer based in Bethesda, Md.

Monday, March 11, 2019 - 06:00