Around the World in Seven Ground Stations
Happy Birthday, Jules Verne! Considered by many to be the father of science fiction, French novelist Jules Verne takes his readers “Around the World in Eighty Days.” In his honor, let’s circle the world in seven far-flung ground stations and the communications networks they support. These ground stations downlink data from science and exploration missions, maintaining the critical link from space to ground.
Photo 2: Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex.
@NASA’s Deep Space Network supports far-out missions like Voyager 1, over 13 billion miles from Earth, using antennas up to 230 feet in diameter. The network has ground stations in California, Spain and this one in Australia.
Photo 3: Space Network Ground Station – Guam, USA
Our Space Network uses relay satellites in conjunction with ground stations to provide continuous communications coverage for satellites in low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station, enabling 24/7 connection with astronauts onboard.
Photo 4: Optical Ground Station – Haleakalā, Hawaii.
This ground station relays data to California through a groundbreaking optical communications satellite, the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration.
Photo 5: Near Earth Network Ground Station – McMurdo, Antarctica
We used this station to demonstrate a new technology called Disruption Tolerant Networking. DTN protocols allow data to be stored at points along its route that do not have an open connection to the next intermediary, preventing data loss and improving data returns.
Photo 6: Near Earth Network Ground Station – Santiago, Chile
NASA satellites in low Earth orbit rely on the NEN to bring down 1,500 gigabytes of data per day.
Photo 7: VHF Ground Station – Wallops Island, Virginia
If the space station ever has communications trouble, we could communicate with our astronauts through emergency very high frequency communications ground stations.
Photo 8: Near Earth Network Ground Station – Svalbard, Norway
The NEN’s antennas as large as 60 feet track rapidly moving satellites up to a million miles from Earth.
Credits: NASA/Swedish Space Corporation/Kongsberg Satellite Corporation