This official NASA history document - converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction - provides a comprehensive, readable history of NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN), the network of antennas communicating with interplanetary probes including the eras of the Mariner, Viking, Voyager, Galileo, Cassini spacecraft. Contents: Genesis: 1957—1961; The Mariner Era: 1961—1974; The Viking Era: 1974—1978; The Voyager Era: 1977—1986; The Galileo Era: 1986—1996; The Cassini Era: 1996—1997; The Advance of Technology in the Deep Space Network; The Deep Space Network as a Scientific Instrument; The Deep Space Network as an Organization in Change.
From the Foreword: "Without the remarkable improvement in performance of the DSN, scientific missions to the distant planets would have been impossible. In 1964, when Mariner IV flew past Mars and took a few photographs, the limitation of the communication link meant that it took eight hours to return to Earth a single photograph from the Red Planet. By 1989, when Voyager observed Neptune, the DSN capability had increased so much that almost real-time video could be received from the much more distant planet, Neptune. It is timely that, some 40 years after its inception, the Deep Space Network should be recognized for its remarkable litany of progress in radio communications over vast distances, thereby allowing planetary scientists to collect data from sites throughout the solar system. This book succeeds in bringing the history of the DSN forward for the attention of curious, generally informed, or technical specialist readers.
In planning this book, New Zealand-born author Douglas Mudgway was faced with the formidable problem of making an extremely complex technology comprehensible to the curious or generally informed reader, while at the same time presenting for the specialist reader a historically accurate account of the advance of the technology that made possible more sophisticated planetary missions. The task was further complicated by the fact that the DSN was in a constant state of change, changes that were in consonance with the requirements of the space missions it was supporting. For the former type of reader, Mudgway describes what the DSN actually did, within the framework of several overarching eras, each corresponding to a period of time during which a major NASA deep space mission dominated the public scene. The Mariner, Viking, Voyager, and Galileo Eras are examples. He provides an inside view of what it took to design, build, and operate those tenuous radio communication links between the controllers, engineers, and scientists at computer terminals at JPL and billion dollar spacecraft about to land on Mars, orbit around Jupiter, or fly through the rings of Saturn. For the latter reader, the author provides an excellent review of the growth of the specialized technology that underlaid the remarkable expansion of Network capability that enabled the design of increasingly ambitious planetary missions."