Goldstone’s 230 foot antenna ready for decades ahead. Photo Credit/NASA.
After a seven-month overhaul, NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, Calif., is back in action, and played a key role in the successful Nov. 4 EPOXI mission flyby of the comet Hartley 2.
The $1.25 million upgrade, which included 375 separate improvements, will extend operations of the more than 40-year-old antenna for another two decades.The overhaul included delicate operations to raise the seven million pound, 230 foot wide dish antenna two-tenths of an inch for replacements of the one horizontal and four elevation bearings.
NASA’s DSN includes matching antennas near Madrid, Spain and Canberra, Australia, for the continuous tracking of some of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s highest profile missions, the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, Cassini, the Spitzer Space Telescope and Voyagers 1 and 2.
Goldstone is sometimes referred to as the “Mars antenna” for its role in receiving the first close up photos of the Martian surface, images transmitted back to Earth by NASA’s Mariner 4 flyby mission in mid-July 1965.