Friday celebrates the friends and folk of the Deep Space Network (DSN).
Today we look at how three giant radio antennas facilitate deep space missions and their critical role in ensuring success in outer solar system explorations. And we begin with a statement by NASA Historian Peter J. Westwick who sums it up perfectly;
“The extension of the (Voyager 2) mission to Uranus and Neptune highlights one of the unsung heroes of JPL, and that’s the DSN. Those encounters at Uranus and Neptune would have
been impossible without what the DSN did to get that DATA back.”
And Peter continues,
“To put the situation in context, the Voyager radio transmitter is powered at about 23 watts, which is about the power of your refrigerator lightbulb.. and they were trying to pick up that signal from Earth well over a billion miles away. And picking out that very tiny signal from the vast background of outer space is really astonishing.”
Click on the image below to access the full documentary.
The DSN is the essential link for tracking and communicating NASA’s interplanetary spacecraft. The DSN started approximately in the 1960s, the same era as the voyager mission.
The DSN are in three strategic locations around the globe that supports NASA’s interplanetary spacecraft missions picking up frequencies billions of miles into space. The facilities are placed approximately 120 degrees apart in longitude.
According to Suzie Todd, who is now director of the Deep Space Network, the Voyager spacecraft and the DSN grew up together, and the folks that operate the DSN stations are
“very dedicated at what they do.”
Looking down on Earth's North Pole - Deep Space Network
And so, as this chapter of Miranda’s story comes to a close, it is with gratitude to the DSN folk for the coverage of those worlds far, far away, out in the harsh, violent edges of our solar system.
And for what little we know about Miranda, it is astonishing that the DSN can tease out that tiny signal billions of miles away, yet the EPIC story they downlink back on Planet earth is truly breathtaking!
So now we have shone a light on the last missing link in Miranda’s incredible story, AKA “ the unsung heroes of the Voyager mission” I feel it’s appropriate we invite the DSN folk to the stage too;
“Go ahead and take YOUR bow.”
Miranda V Movement "Monolithic Cliff"