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Deep Space Network

When it comes to making a long-distance call, it’s hard to top NASA’s Deep Space Network. The largest and most sensitive scientific telecommunications system in the world, the antennas of the DSN are our indispensable link to missions venturing beyond Earth. The DSN provides a crucial connection with our spacecraft, receiving never before seen images and scientific information on Earth, propelling our understanding of the universe, our solar system and ultimately, our place within it.

A 230-foot-wide antenna at Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex near Canberra, Australia.

What is the Deep Space Network?

The world’s largest telecommunications system.

The Deep Space Network—or DSN—is NASA’s international array of giant radio antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions, plus a few that orbit Earth. The DSN also provides radar and radio astronomy observations that improve our understanding of the solar system and the larger universe.

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The DSN Now tool is displayed on a screen in the foreground—antenna images show real-time data provided by the Deep Space Network ground stations. The Artemis logo is seen in the background on a large screen.
The DSN Now tool displays real-time data in the Charles Elachi Mission Control Center at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory during the Artemis I launch on November 16, 2022.
NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Lannom
Featured Story

How NASA’s Deep Space Network Supports the Agency’s Missions

The DSN will enable NASA to track and communicate with Artemis I while working to provide coverage across dozens of…

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History of the DSN

NASA's Deep Space Network has a long history of enabling exploration. The forerunner to the DSN was established in January 1958, predating the official establishment of NASA in October 1958. On July 20, 1969, Deep Space Network antennas across the world helped receive the first downlink and two-way communication from the surface of the Moon, also receiving the iconic communique, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

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A black and white photo of Australian technicians operating and monitoring systems for the 26-meter (85-foot) antenna at the Tidbinbilla Deep Space Instrumentation Facility (now known as the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex) in January 1969.
Scientists and engineers can infer a spacecraft’s location and how fast it’s going by measuring changes in the spacecraft’s radio signal frequency. This is made possible by the Doppler effect, the same phenomenon that causes a siren to sound different as it travels towards and away from you.
When scientists and engineers want to send commands to a spacecraft in deep space, they turn to the Deep Space Network, NASA’s international array of giant radio antennas used to communicate with spacecraft at the Moon and beyond.
How exactly do we navigate spacecraft that are so far away? Scientists and engineers on Earth can use precise measurements to know where faraway spacecraft are by using the Deep Space Network, NASA’s international collection of giant radio antennas used to communicate with spacecraft at the Moon and beyond.