Follow this link to skip to the main content
spacer
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, JPL, NASA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Caltech, California Institute of Technology View the NASA Portal
homeearthsolar systemstars galaxiestechnology
JPL History banner
Grand Voyages
1958 - 1967
Home History
Early History
First Space Missions
 
New Directions
Grand Voyages
the 80s
the 90s
Communications
  printer-icon  Print this page
The quickly growing number of robotic missions required a means of space communications. JPL managed construction of this communications and tracking system, which became known as NASA's Deep Space Network.

Because of Earth's rotation, JPL had to build large antennas in three locations around the world. The largest in this network are 70 meters (about 230 feet) in diameter. The first of these very large structures, often called the Mars Antenna because it was built to serve the Mariner 4 mission to Mars, was completed in the California desert in mid-1966.

Deserts were preferable sites because rain interfered with radio reception. So network designer Eberhardt Rechtin chose Goldstone, California ; Woomera , Australia ; and Johannesburg , South Africa . Later, NASA had the Woomera site relocated to Canberra , Australia , and the Johannesburg site moved to Madrid , Spain .

  Antenna at Woomera, Australia
  The first deep-space station to be established overseas was at Woomera, Australia, about 354 kilometers (220 miles) north of Adelaide, in the state of South Australia.
+ Full image
     
  Goldstone antenna
The 70 meter (about 230 feet) antenna at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex, located in the Mojave Desert in California.
+ Full image
     
Privacy / Copyrights    FAQ   Contact JPL
Link to FirstGov.gov + Freedom of Information Act View NASA Home Page    
JPL Historian: Erik Conway
Site Manager: Susan Watanabe
Webmasters: Tony Greicius, Martin Perez