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ToSeek
2006-May-22, 04:59 PM
GAO Warns Deep Space Network Ill-Equipped To Meet Future Demand (http://www.space.com/spacenews/businessmonday_060521.html)


While NASA's Deep Space Network, an aging array of giant antennas used to communicate with spacecraft beyond low Earth orbit, is handling its current workload, upgrades are sorely needed before many more new missions are launched, according a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report due to be released May 22.

The 29-page reports says the Deep Space Network has a "deteriorating infrastructure and a limited capacity to serve additional missions. Systems infrastructure, which has been marked by extensive deferred maintenance, is aging and likely to become increasingly fragile and subject to breakdown at a time when demand is anticipated to increase. The potential exists for the loss of scientific data that would be difficult, if not impossible to replace."

Larry Jacks
2006-May-22, 05:24 PM
Deferring maintenance is a fool's economy. You may think you're saving money, but neglecting maintenance ALWAYS ends up costing more in the long term.

Swift
2006-May-22, 05:34 PM
Deferring maintenance is a fool's economy. You may think you're saving money, but neglecting maintenance ALWAYS ends up costing more in the long term.
Unfortunately, it is a very widely used economy in both government and industry, in my experience. I am not at all surprised.

mugaliens
2006-May-22, 05:53 PM
Deferring maintenance is a fool's economy. You may think you're saving money, but neglecting maintenance ALWAYS ends up costing more in the long term.

Not always, and not especially. Quite often advancing technology makes it cheaper in the long run to upgrade (new technology generally = lower maintenance) than maintaining old technology, particularly when it comes to things like computers and telecommunications.

Here's an idea: Instead of of having three telescopes located 120 around the world (Canberra, Mojave, and Madrid), let's utilize modern technology to spread them throughout most major cities (or at least geographic regions) of the world.

1. Encrypt all comms using modern PKI technology - full, secure encryption and authentication to ensure unhackable comms with the satellites.

2. Send the comms to receiving/transmitting stations located in each major city or geographic regions throughout the world.

3. Encode the signals such that they're time-sensitive, and pre-load (buffer) signal to ensure it's consistant and smooth.

4. Using GPS-accuracy time encoding, broadcast and receive signals with your new world-wide-sized phased array. This solution also allows you to simulatenously send and receive many signals in many different directions, simultaneously.

And talk about sensitive - Woah! The world-wide synthetic aperature would be much more sensitive than the current 26m to 70m antennas.

mugaliens
2006-May-22, 05:58 PM
ToSeek, if I didn't know better, sometimes I think you throw these kinds of topics out there just to get responses back that might actually solve the problem!

:whistle:

Larry Jacks
2006-May-23, 12:10 AM
Given that the signals from the deepest space probes are tiny fractions of a picowatt in strength, putting the antennas in cities doesn't make sense. The RF noise levels in most cities are just too high. They put these big antennas in remote locations for a reason.

And while it's true that replacing old electronics technology is often cheaper than maintaining it, that most definitely isn't true for physical structures like antennas, buildings and the like.

loglo
2006-May-23, 12:15 AM
When I visited the DSN station in Canberra last year they were fairly critical of the resources they were given to get the job done. The MRO in particular was a real hassle as they didn't have the capacity to handle the throughput from it. Just another case of everyone expecting bandwidth to be limitless, I get that at work a lot. :D

I'm sure mugaliens' scenario would work, but its a budgetary problem not a technical one. These guys do great work, and its critical enough that they shouldn't have to do it on a shoestring.

ToSeek
2006-May-24, 02:54 PM
Given that the signals from the deepest space probes are tiny fractions of a picowatt in strength, putting the antennas in cities doesn't make sense. The RF noise levels in most cities are just too high. They put these big antennas in remote locations for a reason.

I used to work in a building housing a tracking station. When a spacecraft was making a pass, they would shut down all automobile traffic in the immediate area. And at the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia, the tour bus has a special motor designed not to generate radio interference.