NASA uses tri-band antennas to improve communication during science missions

(ORDO NEWS) — NASA‘s Near Space Network allows spacecraft exploring the solar system and Earth to send back collected scientific data.

Scientists have integrated four new global antennas into the network to further support science and research missions.

In December 2022, antennas in Alaska, Wallops Island, Punta Arenas and Svalbard were brought online to provide current and future missions with S-, X- and Ka-band communication capabilities.

These new antennas have been designed to support missions that collect massive amounts of data.

The upgrade will provide unprecedented flexibility to the Near Space Network and improve direct communications with Earth.

The Near Space Network provides communications services to missions through a combination of government and commercial assets.

To develop these new antennas, the NASA team worked with commercial partner Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT), which built antennas in Punta Arenas and Svalbard, while NASA worked on antennas on Wallops Island and Alaska.

Currently, four antennas are integrated into the network’s service catalogue, expanding its capabilities to support science and research missions. Now missions will be able to send back terabytes of data.

All four ground stations include a delay and fault tolerant DTN network. DTN is an advanced communications system being developed and tested by NASA’s Office of Space Technology.

To expand access to data, the network includes cloud storage services.

Satellites such as PACE will transmit their data to an antenna, and that data will pass through the ground station’s high-speed data processors to a cloud-based data storage and access service that will allow mission teams to get information faster and from virtually anywhere.

This reduces equipment requirements and lowers overall storage costs. Many missions will benefit from this new infrastructure and advanced capabilities.

With four new antennas around the world, the Near Space Network is expanding its capabilities to support science and exploration missions that use advanced instrumentation.

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