Deep Space Network
Goldstone Deep Space Communication Complex
Fort Irwin Military Base
Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex
Carretera de Colmenar del Arroyo a Robledo de Chavela M-531 Km.7
Robledo de Chavela Madrid 28294
Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex
About the Deep Space Network
The Deep Space Network - or DSN - is NASA’s international array of giant radio antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions, plus a few that orbit Earth. The DSN also provides radar and radio astronomy observations that improve our understanding of the solar system and the larger universe.
The DSN is operated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which also operates many of the agency's interplanetary robotic space missions.
The DSN consists of three facilities spaced equidistant from each other – approximately 120 degrees apart in longitude – around the world. These sites are at Goldstone, near Barstow, California; near Madrid, Spain; and near Canberra, Australia. The strategic placement of these sites permits constant communication with spacecraft as our planet rotates – before a distant spacecraft sinks below the horizon at one DSN site, another site can pick up the signal and carry on communicating.
The antennas of the Deep Space Network are the indispensable link to explorers venturing beyond Earth. They provide the crucial connection for commanding our spacecraft and receiving their never before seen images and scientific information on Earth, propelling our understanding of the universe, our solar system and ultimately, our place within it.
Each of the three Deep Space Network, or DSN, sites has multiple large antennas and is designed to enable continuous radio communication between several spacecraft and Earth. All three complexes consist of at least four antenna stations, each equipped with large, parabolic dish antennas and ultra-sensitive receiving systems capable of detecting incredibly faint radio signals from distant spacecraft.
Antenna stations are remotely operated from a signal processing center at each complex. The centers house electronic systems that point and control the antennas, receive and process data, transmit commands and generate spacecraft navigation data.
Once the data is processed at the complexes, it is transmitted to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for further processing and distribution to science teams over a ground communications network.
The Australian complex is located 40 kilometers (25 miles) southwest of Canberra near the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. The Spanish complex is located 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of Madrid at Robledo de Chavela. The Goldstone complex is located on the U.S. Army's Fort Irwin Military Reservation, approximately 72 kilometers (45 miles) northeast of the desert city of Barstow, California. Each complex is situated in semi-mountainous, bowl-shaped terrains to shield against external radio frequency interference.