PASADENA, Calif., March 9 (UPI) — The U.S. space agency says major renovation work has started at its Deep Space Network’s “Mars Antenna” in Goldstone, Calif.
NASA said the work on its historic 230-foot-wide antenna, which has received data and sent commands to deep space missions for more than 40 years, will involve replacing part of the hydrostatic bearing assembly that enables the antenna to rotate horizontally.
Officials said the engineering plans call for lifting about 9 million pounds of instruments approximately 0.2 inches so workers can replace the steel runner, walls and supporting grout.
The operation, which will cost about $1.25 million, has a design life of 20 years and is expected to be completed by November.
“This antenna has been a workhorse for … over 40 years,” said Alaudin Bhanji, Deep Space Network project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “It has provided a critical lifeline to dozens of missions, while enabling scientific results that have enriched the hearts and minds of generations. We want it to continue doing so.”
NASA said it built the Mars antenna when spacecraft began venturing beyond Earth’s orbit, requiring more powerful communications tools. The Mars antenna was the first of the giant antennas designed to receive weak signals and transmit very strong ones far into space.
More information about the Deep Space Network is available at http://deepspace.jpl.nasa.gov/dsn/index.html.
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