The Deep Space Network (DSN) supports NASA and non-NASA missions that explore the furthest points of our solar system. The DSN has three ground stations located approximately 120 degrees apart on Earth (120 + 120 + 120 = 360). This is to ensure that any satellite in deep space is able to communicate with at least one station at all times. The ground stations also communicate with satellites in order to initiate course corrections, provide software updates, and alter the way scientific observations are made.
The Deep Space Network provides back up to the other two networks:
Deep Space Network Antennas
The diameter of the Deep Space Network antennas range in size from 34 meters (111 feet) to 70 meters (230 feet) - equivalent to the height of a 20 story building! The dishes need to be so large in order to capture the faint signals sent from millions, even billions, of miles away. With its sophisticated equipment, the 70 meter antenna is able to capture a 20 watt signal from the depths of space, which is less powerful than the energy emitted by a refrigerator light bulb.
The Deep Space Network is operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year. Operations on the network run above 95% proficiency every month. Usually the DSN operates above 99%.
Map of Deep Space Network Sites
Goldstone Complex, California
Madrid Complex, Spain
Canberra Complex, Australia