NASA Space Communications and Navigation: Supporting Exploration


NASA Space Communications and Navigation: Supporting Exploration

NASA spacecraft has studied Earth and the surrounding universe for more than 60 years, making earth-breaking discoveries and enabling human exploration. From hundreds, thousands and millions of miles away, the spacecraft must send their critical information back to Earth and the scientists who can use it.

That's why NASA's three space communication networks come in. Each of the networks covers a different part of the sky, from just a few miles from the ground's surface to the interstorter site. They also use different infrastructure and technology to give different kinds of missions.

Explore Earth

Earth-visiting satellites provide important information about different aspects of our planet, including precipitation, ice cover, soil moisture, ozone, air quality and much more. The observations help with agriculture, climate monitoring, and natural disaster monitoring, to name only a few. Most earth-observing spacecraft are in low-Earth orbit, meaning that they cross the ground within a thousand miles of the surface. Many orbits over ground poles.

The missions frequently use NASA's Near Earth Network (NEN) to communicate their data to the ground. The Nen is made from more than 14 ground stations, comprising more than 25 antennas, worldwide. The upload and download information to and from spacecraft while they are within the straight line of the antenna, transmitting horizontal line to horizontal line.

Explore person in place

Communication is most critical in human space, when human beings depend on being able to exchange information with mission controllers on earth. NASA networks support the International Space Station, some commercial cargo vehicles, and will support business communication and NASA's Orion crew vehicle in the future. NASA Space Network (SN) now transmits most human space flight data, including astronaut communication with mission control and even data about the spacecraft's health and telemetics. Data on science and technology experiments also come down to earth by the SN.

The SN is so named because it is currently NASA's only space communication network that employs satellites to transmit data. Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) circuit ground in geosynchronous orbit, an orbit about 22,000 miles from Earth's surface that allows them to remain stationary over one place on the planet. Because of the orbit, the satellites are always within the line of sight of an antenna on the ground. They are placed in key positions around the earth, meaning that one TDRS is always within the line of sight of a low-earth orbiting spacecraft. This allows the sn to provide 24/7/365 continuous communication coverage, which is crucial to human spacific.

Explore division to Mars

NASA is blowing a trail to take humans back to the moon in the coming years, and then forward to Mars. Teams across the agency are working on both robotic science missions and human exploration missions and technology to make this goal possible.

Two of NASA's space communication networks will potentially play a key role in making investigation of remote destinations possible. Current robotic missions in the moon, such as the Lunar Reconciliation Orbiter, commonly use the Nine to communicate data to and from the ground. With its global network of land-based tracking stations, the NEN can support missions from low-Earth orbit to Lunar Orbit and beyond.

The Deep Space Network (DSN) also plays a key role in the missions. Like the Nine, the DSN is composed of ground-based antennas and ground stations around the world. The Denn Antennas are huge – as much as 230 feet (70 meters) in diameter – and are placed in three key locations every 120 degrees around the world, in Madrid, Spain; Canberra, Australia; And Goldstone, California. The placement of the antennas ensures spacecraft can reach an antenna where it is located in relation to earth. The DSN primarily supports interplanetary missions, such as the ones currently at Mars.

Explore Solar System and Next

Next Mars, NASA missions explore the next reach of our solar system, from Jupiter all the way out to interstellar space. The missions are key to learning more about our solar system and the universe further, and even looking for life on other worlds.

The DSN supports the Interplanetary Soups by its international network of rational antennas, providing long-standing space for spacecraft to send home their data over vast distances.

NASA also employs a number of spacecraft in low-Earth orbit, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, to make observations of the universe beyond our solar system. The missions rely on the snap for their data coverage, allowing them to repay data at any time during their missions.

Explore Space Tech

In addition to supporting spacecraft operations, Scan develops cutting-edge technology to provide morning missions. Meanwhile, SCAN explores a wide range of new communications and navigation technologies as part of their Decade of Light initiative. In the coming years, SCAN will launch a number of optical communication missions, using infrared waves to send 10-100 times as much data at a time like current systems.

In addition, SCAN is moving in the future by integrating artificial intelligence, quantum communications, pulsar navigation, X communications and navigation, and more in their portfolio to support NASA missions as they collect more data and explore more than ever before.

Space Communication and Navigation is an integral part of Vision's vision to reveal and expand knowledge of the benefit of humanity, serving as a conducive to transmit every mission's important observations back to earth.

Editor: Ashley Campbell

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