NASA has added another antenna to its Deep space network (DSN) which will handle communications with space missions, including the Perseverance rover which is expected to land on Mars in February 2021. The agency said on Saturday that the satellite dish at Deep Space Station 56 (DSS-56) has started its operations live and will serve as the first antenna to operate with DSN on all communication frequencies.
DSS-56, which spans 34 meters, functions as an “all-in-one” satellite dish and is intended to serve as a backup antenna for the inventory of satellite dishes located at the space communications complex. far from Madrid in Spain. Construction of the antenna began in 2017 with the aim of overcoming the frequency band limitations in the existing satellite dishes at the Madrid site.
NASA envisions the DSS-56 to support the Interplanetary Standards Network in managing navigation and communication operations for subsequent deep space missions, including the upcoming Artemis manned flight to the moon.
Badri Younes, deputy associate administrator and program director for NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation Unit, said the DSS-56 represents the agency’s goal of supporting real-time functionality for more than 30 deep space missions. DSN operates under SCaN and includes ground stations in Spain, Australia and California.