The historic "Mars antenna" at NASA's Deep Space Network site in Goldstone, Calif. has finished a major, delicate surgery that lasted seven months. The operation on the giant, 70-meter-wide (230-foot) antenna replaced the hydrostatic bearing assembly, which enables the antenna to rotate horizontally, and the elevation bearings, which enable the antenna to track up and down from the horizon.

Transcript:

[00:00:00]Music

[00:00:02] We're here at the signal processing center of the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex.

[00:00:06] It's a big day for us here. We're getting our big antenna, the Mars antenna, the 70m back on service after over 6 months of rehabilitation work."

[00:00:15] There were several different things done for this antenna this time. The biggest job was replacing the azimuth bearing.

[00:00:21] This whole antenna floats on a film of oil about 5 to 10 thousandths of an inch thick.

[00:00:26] It's about the thickness of a sheet of paper. We had to replace the entire assembly that allowed that to happen.

[00:00:32] In addition we also replaced the elevation bearings, which is what enables the antenna to rotate up and down.

[00:00:40] For the elevation bearing replacement, we had to jack up a little over 2 million pounds to get the old roller bearings off and the new roller bearings back in.

[00:00:48] This antenna is over 40 years old. This is the first time that we've replaced this hydrostatic bearing on it. This new bearing should last another 40 years.

[00:00:58] By putting in the new bearing we hope to reduce the amount of maintenance effort that goes in there.

[00:01:02] Again, less maintenance time means more tracking time. More tracking time means more scientific discoveries for the projects.

[00:01:11] Now we are going to acquire the signal, which we are three-way with station 25.

[00:01:16] So we're acquiring the signal. We should see the signal level over here.

[00:01:20] Music

[00:01:23] They ended up locking on the spacecraft. Great signal level.

[00:01:28] We have a number of missions that are relying on the Big Dish.

[00:01:32] Juno is coming up.

[00:01:34] Mars Science Laboratory, when it lands.

[00:01:38] We have a number of critical activities planned for this antenna. So that's why we want to keep it running.

[00:01:42] And it should be in tip-top shape.

[00:01:44] NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology.
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