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Goldstone deep space communications complex

The meaning of «goldstone deep space communications complex»

The Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex (GDSCC), commonly called the Goldstone Observatory, is a satellite ground station located in the Mojave Desert near Barstow in the U.S. state of California. Operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), its main purpose is to track and communicate with interplanetary space missions. It is named after Goldstone, California, a nearby gold-mining ghost town.[3]

The complex includes the Pioneer Deep Space Station (aka DSS 11), which is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. The station is one of three[4] satellite communication stations in the NASA Deep Space Network (DSN), whose mission is to provide the vital two-way communications link that tracks and controls interplanetary spacecraft and receives the images and scientific information they collect. The others are the Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex in Spain and the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex in Australia. These three stations are located at separations of approximately 120° longitude so that as the Earth rotates a spacecraft will always be in sight of at least one station.

Five large parabolic (dish) antennas are located at the Goldstone site to handle the workload, since at any given time the DSN is responsible for maintaining communication with up to 30 spacecraft. The antennas function similarly to a home satellite dish. However, since the spacecraft they communicate with are much further away than the communication satellites which home satellite dishes use, the signals received are much weaker, requiring a larger aperture antenna to gather enough radio energy to make them intelligible. The largest, a 70-meter (230 ft) Cassegrain antenna, is used for communication with space missions to the outer planets, such as the Voyager spacecraft, which, at 21.5 billion kilometers, is the most distant manmade object from Earth. The radio frequencies used for spacecraft communication are in the microwave part of the radio spectrum; S band (2.29–2.30 GHz), X band (8.40–8.50 GHz) and Ka band (31.8–32.3 GHz). In addition to receiving radio signals from the spacecraft (downlink signals), the antennas also transmit commands to the spacecraft (uplink signals) with high power radio transmitters powered by klystron tubes.

A major goal in the design of the station is to reduce interference with the weak incoming downlink radio signals by natural and manmade radio noise. The remote Mojave Desert location was chosen because it is far from manmade sources of radio noise such as motor vehicles. The RF front ends of the radio receivers at the dishes use ruby masers, consisting of a bar of synthetic ruby cooled by liquid helium to 4.5 K to minimize the noise introduced by the electronics.

When not needed for spacecraft communication, the Goldstone antennas are used as sensitive radio telescopes for astronomical research, such as mapping quasars and other celestial radio sources; radar mapping planets, the Moon, comets and asteroids; spotting comets and asteroids with the potential to strike Earth; and the search for ultra-high energy neutrino interactions in the Moon by using large-aperture radio antennas.[5]

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