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Ground antennas in NASA's deep space telecommunications

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4 Author(s)
Rafferty, W. ; California Inst. of Technol., Pasadena, CA, USA ; Slobin, S.D. ; Stelzried, Charles T. ; Sue, M.K.

Ground antennas are the major visible components of NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN). The role, key characteristics, and performance of these antennas in deep-space telecommunications are described. The system analyses and tradeoffs to optimize the overall ground-to-spacecraft link and to define future missions are elaborated from an antenna perspective. Overall performance of receiving systems is compared using the widely accepted G/T figure-of-merit, i.e., net antenna gain divided by the operating system noise temperature. Performance of past, present, and future antennas and receiving systems is discussed, including the planned development of a world-wide network of 34-m diameter beam-waveguide antennas. The need for multifrequency operation, presently in the S- and X-bands, and in the future in the Ka-band, is discussed. The resulting requirements placed on antenna technology are highlighted. Beam-waveguide antenna performance to further improve performance and operational advantages is discussed

Published in:

Proceedings of the IEEE  (Volume:82 ,  Issue: 5 )