Madrid hosts a space “superantian” for NASA’s Deep Space Network

NASA has hosted a station in Madrid, Spain. We normally see large space research facilities at high points when it comes to telescopes, but there are many other structures that do not require considerable heights and that can be very useful for future missions. This is the case of the new 34-meter antenna that has been installed in the Madrid Communications Complex, which is added to a NASA project.

Specifically, it is the NASA Deep Space Network, of which the Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex (MDSCC), built in 1964 and now adds to its facilities this “off-road” antenna. It was officially inaugurated on January 22 and it is not the only one of its kind, although almost, since there are only three like it in the whole world.

A 34-meter plate that exceeds in range those of “his twins” in Madrid

NASA project in Madrid
Aerial view of the Communications Complex with the Deep Space of Madrid

The antenna has a name and is called Deep Space Station 56, or DSS-56, it has a huge 34-meter diameter dish and began to be built in 2017 in the Complex, as explained from the same . It is located in this station that NASA has in the Spanish capital, specifically in Robledo de Chavela (on the outskirts of Madrid), and its importance lies in the fact that it is one of the three that make up the Deep Space Network.

That is why right now we only see three of these antennas on the entire planet, along with those located in Canberra (Australia) and Goldstone (United States). It is an antenna prepared to communicate with vehicles and missions of many types and distances, including NASA’s Perseverance rover (when it lands on Mars).

In fact, the main difference with the rest of the antennas is that DSS-56 is the first that the Deep Space Network will be able to communicate in the entire frequency range , and it will not be restricted to only specific ships, remembering that we saw that for example Australia’s was the only one to be able to communicate with Voyager 2 (and it would need updates to do so with Mars). As specified in the INTA (National Institute of Aerospace Technology), DSS-56 “allows the transmission and reception of signals in the S and X bands (2 and 8 Ghz), in addition to incorporating reception capabilities in the K and Ka bands ( 26 and 32 Ghz) “, which will support communications for future manned missions to the Moon and Mars.

Hence, they speak of it as an “off-road antenna”, being able to be used as support for other antennas of the Madrid Complex. It is therefore an important antenna for the development of ambitious future missions of the space agency, Spain being part of that space elite dedicated to establishing a “crucial connection” with the missions (in the words of NASA ), now with a little more prominence.

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