Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe free to our newsletters via your




















SPACE TRAVEL
Two Voyagers Taught Us How to Listen to Space
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Aug 03, 2017


The DSN was formally founded in 1963, with hardware and personnel that matched the early needs of NASA. The Apollo missions; the Viking program's exploration of Mars; the Pioneer and Mariner probes: all of these relied on the DSN's radio antennas.

As NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft were changing our understanding of the solar system, they also spurred a leap in spacecraft communications.

The mission's impact is still visible in California's Mojave Desert. There, at NASA's Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex, the arcs of antenna dishes peek out over craggy hilltops. Goldstone was the first place where the two Voyagers started to change the landscape. The farther they traveled, the bigger these dishes needed to be so they could send and receive radio waves necessary to track and communicate with the probes.

Starting in the 1970s, construction crews built new dishes and expanded old ones. These dishes now tower over the desert: the largest is 230 feet (70 meters) in diameter, a true colossus. Its smaller siblings are 112 feet (34 meters) in diameter, longer than two school buses at their widest points. The dishes had to grow from their original 210 feet (64 meters) and 85 feet (26 meters), respectively.

The expanded dish sizes were mirrored at NASA's other Deep Space Network (DSN) sites, located in Madrid, Spain, and Canberra, Australia. The DSN is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, under the direction of the agency's Space Communication and Navigation (SCaN) Program.

The Voyager mission helped drive this evolution. Today, the Voyagers are more than 10 billion miles from Earth, and Voyager 1 has gone past the heliosphere - the bubble containing the Sun, the planets and the solar wind. The vast distances between the probes and Earth have required bigger and better "ears" with which to hear their increasingly faint signals.

"In a sense, Voyager and the DSN grew up together," said Suzanne Dodd of JPL, director of the Interplanetary Network Directorate and Voyager's project manager since 2010. "The mission was a proving ground for new technology, both in deep space as well as on Earth."

The DSN was formally founded in 1963, with hardware and personnel that matched the early needs of NASA. The Apollo missions; the Viking program's exploration of Mars; the Pioneer and Mariner probes: all of these relied on the DSN's radio antennas.

But by the late 1970s, the network was undergoing a number of rapid changes. Besides expanding dish sizes, NASA was also exploring the concept of arraying antennas, said Marie Massey, Goldstone's business manager. By pointing multiple antennas toward the Voyager spacecraft, operators could boost their signal, giving them the strength of one giant antenna.

"The DSN proved the concept," said Massey, who began working as a Goldstone station operator in 1978.

Arrays were also carried out at the DSN's other sites in Madrid and Canberra. It would take several antennas at each of the DSN's sites to collect Voyager 2's images of Uranus in 1986 - and create the first array for a planetary encounter in deep space communications.

Three years later, Voyager 2 encountered Neptune - which required more changes. The signal was so faint that the arrays used in 1986 weren't enough. NASA completed the expansions of the DSN's 230-foot dishes just before the flyby, adding an extra signal boost.

The agency also had some help from non-DSN antennas. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory offered its Very Large Antenna in New Mexico; Australia's Parkes Observatory and Japan's Usuda Deep Space Center also lent their ears to Voyager's science.

"Today, space agencies borrow antennas routinely to help each other, something which began with Voyager," said Leslie Deutsch of JPL, deputy director of the Interplanetary Network Directorate. Deutsch helped research how to perform NASA's first arrays and how to incorporate the non-DSN antennas into that work.

Arrays using these massive antennas are still vital to the Voyager mission's distant signals. The transmitter on each of the Voyagers is just strong enough to power an ordinary refrigerator light bulb. By the time those signals reach Earth, they're one-tenth of a billionth-trillionth of a watt.

There were other changes to the DSN, too. A JPL-designed telemetry system would alter the way data were transmitted. The Voyagers were the first spacecraft to use the Reed-Solomon error-correcting code, which increased their data rate.

All of this made it easier for the Voyagers to make new discoveries and send back iconic images like "the family portrait." But they also meant the DSN itself was changing: It was evolving for a new space age, one in which exploration was rich and frequent.

"We've gone from one primary planetary mission to investigating many locations in our solar system at the same time," Dodd said.

For more information about Voyager, visit here

SPACE TRAVEL
Voyager spacecraft still in communication 40 years out into the void
Pasadena CA (JPL) Aug 01, 2017
Humanity's farthest and longest-lived spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, achieve 40 years of operation and exploration this August and September. Despite their vast distance, they continue to communicate with NASA daily, still probing the final frontier. Their story has not only impacted generations of current and future scientists and engineers, but also Earth's culture, including film, art and ... read more

Related Links
Deep Space Network
Space Tourism, Space Transport and Space Exploration News

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

SPACE TRAVEL
ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli starts third mission on Space Station

Voyager spacecraft still in communication 40 years out into the void

NextSTEP Partners Develop Ground Prototypes to Expand our Knowledge of Deep Space Habitats

Three-man crew reaches International Space Station

SPACE TRAVEL
Iran in 'successful' test of satellite-launch rocket

India looks to more launches with new facility from 2018

Sea Launch to be modernized for Russia's Soyuz-5 carrier rocket

Navy completes testing fixes on electro-magnetic launch systems

SPACE TRAVEL
Eclipse Balloons to Study Effect of Mars-Like Environment on Life

Portals to new worlds: Martian exploration near the North Pole

Opportunity enters Automode during solar conjunction pause

For Moratorium on Sending Commands to Mars, Blame the Sun

SPACE TRAVEL
China develops sea launches to boost space commerce

Chinese satellite Zhongxing-9A enters preset orbit

Chinese Space Program: From Setback, to Manned Flights, to the Moon

Chinese Rocket Fizzles Out, Puts Other Launches on Hold

SPACE TRAVEL
Iridium Announces Third Iridium NEXT Launch Date

UK space companies to develop international partnerships

Airbus DS to expand cooperation with Russia

ASTROSCALE Raises a Total of $25 Million in Series C Led by Private Companies

SPACE TRAVEL
JV with Russia to build up to 50 satellite solid-state power amplifiers

NASA enhances online scientific tool used by hundreds Worldwide

Making polymer chemistry 'click'

ARCTEC receives contract for Air Force radar sites in Alaska

SPACE TRAVEL
Unexpected life found at bottom of High Arctic lakes

An Earth-like atmosphere may not survive Proxima b's orbit

A New Search for Extrasolar Planets from the Arecibo Observatory

Gulf of Mexico tube worm is one of the longest-living animals in the world

SPACE TRAVEL
New Horizons Video Soars over Pluto's Majestic Mountains and Icy Plains

Juno spots Jupiter's Great Red Spot

New evidence in support of the Planet Nine hypothesis

NASA's New Horizons Team Strikes Gold in Argentina




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement