Keeping the Universe Connected
NASA's reliable space communications and navigation (SCaN) networks are the backbone of all of NASA's space missions, providing the critical communication services for all Earth, space science, and human space flight missions. This includes all of the telemetry, tracking, and commanding (TTandC) required by each spacecraft to transfer key data to the ground systems to manage space operations, as well as the voice communications with the human space flight missions and data transfer for all of the Earth and space science missions. These networks enable NASA to show the live broadcasts to the public of exciting events including launches, astronaut extra-vehicular activity (EVAs), life and work on-board the International Space Station (ISS), and the Mars Rovers' exploration of our neighboring planet.
NASA's space communications and navigation services are provided by three integral networks:
The NEN, which includes commercial services obtained on a per pass basis, provides orbital communications support for near-Earth orbiting customer platforms via various NASA ground stations. The SN provides communications support to spacecraft in Earth vicinity, including the Space Shuttle and the ISS. The DSN is an international network of large antennas and communication facilities that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions, and radio and radar astronomy observations for the exploration of the solar system and the universe. All of NASA's live footage from space is provided through these networks.
NASA's amazing successes, like the landing of the Mars Rovers and their journeys across the red planet, as well as the tragedies during our history have all been brought to the American people live and unfiltered through these communication networks. The Earth science data from the many spacecraft studying our home planet are all made available to scientists through these networks, to learn about our climate and help protect our home planet.
NASA's SCaN networks promote transparency by providing the live video feeds of all major human spaceflight operations, such as launch, landing, docking, undocking, all space walks, major on-orbit assembly operations, and extensive coverage of daily life on-board the ISS. NASA is working to expand the range of activities in which people can participate. NASA works closely with many international space agencies to coordinate critical space communications standards and spectrum requirements necessary for successful communications, without external interferences, as well as to find areas of collaboration and cooperation. Such global standards will aid in interoperability between systems and ease the transition for commercial entities to differentiate.
NASA actively participates with the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Department of State to develop United States positions on the critical radiofrequency spectrum assignments needed for all of NASA's missions, and negotiates those positions within appropriate international fora, such as the World Radiocommunications Conference. NASA also participates in other international collaborative organizations such as the Interagency Operations Advisory Group.