Deep Space Network
The NASA Deep Space Network - or DSN - is an international network of antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions and radio and radar astronomy observations for the exploration of the solar system and the universe. The network also supports selected Earth-orbiting missions.
The DSN currently consists of three deep-space communications facilities placed approximately 120 degrees apart around the world: at Goldstone, in California's Mojave Desert; near Madrid, Spain; and near Canberra, Australia. This strategic placement permits constant observation of spacecraft as the Earth rotates, and helps to make the DSN the largest and most sensitive scientific telecommunications system in the world.
NASA's scientific investigation of the Solar System is being accomplished mainly through the use of unmanned automated spacecraft. The DSN provides the vital two-way communications link that guides and controls these planetary explorers, and brings back the images and new scientific information they collect. All DSN antennas are steerable, high-gain, parabolic reflector antennas.
The network is managed and operated for NASA by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Interplanetary Network Directorate (IND) manages the program within JPL.
For more on the Deep Space Network, visit http://deepspace.jpl.nasa.gov/dsn/index.html
Image Credit: NASA