Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex
News and Announcements
DSN 360 Video Release
Video Release Date: Wednesday, September 1, 2021
Explore NASA’s massive 70-meter deep space communications antenna located at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in Barstow, California. This antenna is part of the NASA Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program’s Deep Space Network, NASA’s international network of facilities used to communicate with faraway spacecraft exploring our solar system. The antennas of the Deep Space Network are the indispensable link to robotic explorers venturing beyond Earth. They provide the crucial connection for commanding NASA’s spacecraft and receiving never-before-seen images and scientific information on Earth, propelling our understanding of the universe, our solar system and ultimately, our place within it.
To learn more about the Deep Space Network, visit go.nasa.gov/about-dsn.
About the DSN
- NASA SCaN’s Deep Space Network (DSN) is an international network of facilities managed and operated by JPL’s Interplanetary Network Directorate. The DSN enables interplanetary spacecraft missions, radio astronomy, radar astronomy and related observations for the exploration of the solar system and the universe. The DSN also enables selected Earth-orbiting missions and will handle communications for Artemis I beyond low-Earth orbit..
- The DSN consists of three antenna facilities spaced at equal distances from each other (about 120 degrees apart in longitude) around the world, operated through the Network Operations Control Center at JPL:
- The Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex near Barstow, California
- The Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex near Madrid, Spain
- The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex near Canberra, Australia
- The strategic placement of these sites permits constant communication with spacecraft as our planet rotates. Before a distant spacecraft sinks below the horizon at one DSN site, another site can pick up the signal and carry on communicating. All three complexes consist of at least four antenna stations, each equipped with large parabolic dish antennas and ultra-sensitive receiving systems capable of detecting incredibly faint radio signals from distant spacecraft.
About the 70-Meter Antenna
- Each Deep Space Network, or DSN, site has one huge, 70-meter (230-foot) diameter antenna. The 70-meter antennas are the largest and most sensitive DSN antennas, capable of tracking a spacecraft traveling tens of billions of miles (kilometers) from Earth.
- Weighing in at nearly 2,970 U.S. tons (2.7 million kilograms), the surface of this giant, dish-shaped reflector is maintained to a precision of within half an inch (one centimeter) across its entire 41,400 square foot (3,850-square-meter) surface. This precision is crucial – even minor deformations would interfere with the antenna’s operations.
- NASA built the 70-meter antenna when ambitious missions began venturing beyond Earth orbit and needed more powerful communications tools to track them. The 70-meter antenna in Goldstone, dubbed the “Mars antenna,” was the first of the giant antennas designed to receive weak signals and transmit very strong ones far out into space, featuring a 64-meter-wide (210-foot) dish when it became operational in 1966. The dish was upgraded from 64 meters to 70 meters in 1988 to enable the antenna to track NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft as it encountered Neptune.
- The Mars antenna has supported missions that include Pioneer, Cassini and the Mars Exploration Rovers. It received Neil Armstrong’s famous communiqué from Apollo 11: “That’s one small step for a man. One giant leap for mankind.” It has also helped with imaging nearby planets, asteroids and comets by bouncing its powerful radar signal off the objects of study.
Please tag @NASASCaN and feel free to use the hashtag #DSN!
Primary link: go.nasa.gov/about-dsn
360 Video: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/jpl/nasa-s-deep-space-network-looks-to-the-future
About the DSN
Goldstone is one of three complexes around the world known as the Deep Space Network (DSN) established to provide the ability to communicate with spacecraft; not only in orbit around the earth, but also in the farther reaches of our solar system. The Deep Space Network complexes, placed 120° apart, provide constant communication with spacecraft as the Earth rotates. In determining the exact position for the site in California, a remote location, free from radio signal interference, was needed. The remote location of the Mojave Desert in California, near the old mining town of Goldstone, was determined to be an optimal location and in 1958 the first antenna was built. Facilities near Madrid, Spain and Canberra, Australia complete the Deep Space Network providing 360 degree coverage for spacecraft tracking.
For over half a century the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex (GDSCC) has provided a vital communications link for NASA/JPL manned and unmanned spacecraft. Fifty years of space exploration has seen many milestones in both robotic and manned spacecraft. From the first planetary encounters, the first human landing on the moon, to missions that reach the farthest points in our solar system, the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex has been there to bring home the critical data, images, or science.
As missions meet new milestones in the 21st century, the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex as part of the Deep Space Network will continue to meet NASA’s vision for space exploration.