36th DPS Meeting, 8-12 November 2004
Session 14 Future Missions
Poster I, Tuesday, November 9, 2004, 4:00-7:00pm, Exhibition Hall 1A

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[14.20] The Next Generation Deep Space Network: Meeting the Needs of Future Science and Exploration Missions

D. S. Abraham (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology)

NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN) is evolving to meet the communication and navigation needs of increasingly complex, data-intensive space science and exploration missions. Solar system exploration missions, for instance, are focusing more on long-duration orbital remote sensing at increasing spatial, spectral, and temporal resolutions. Such missions are also involving greater in situ exploration - with short-lived probes being superceded by multiple, long-lived, mobile robotic explorers and, in the coming decades, human explorers. Meanwhile, solar and astrophysical missions are moving from low-Earth-orbit, single-spacecraft observatories to multi-spacecraft observatories operating in more distant Earth-trailing and Lagrange point orbits. Analysis of NASA's roadmap missions suggests that, over the next 25 years, these various changes will drive both robotic and human downlink rates up by a factor of at least 1,000 - even from the more distant regions of our solar system. At the same time, robotic uplink rates will likely increase by a factor of at least 100, human uplink rates by about 10,000. And, the trend toward multi-spacecraft missions will likely cause a doubling of the number of DSN-supported links back to Earth. Meanwhile, the increasingly diverse set of navigation scenarios associated with all these missions will generate demand for navigation accuracies and timeliness well beyond today's levels. To meet these challenges, the DSN is transforming its network of large antennas to a hybrid network of large arrays of smaller antennas, optical communications terminals, and, at destinations undergoing intensive exploration, relay satellites. It is also developing more capable spacecraft communications components and systems and is exploring more accurate navigation techniques. All of these capabilities are being designed to play together in a seamless, cost-effective manner, providing 21st century missions with a 21st century DSN.

The research described in this abstract was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 #4
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.