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Big Dish: Building America's Deep Space Connection to the Planets
     

Big Dish: Building America's Deep Space Connection to the Planets

by Douglas J. Mudgway
 
NASA's visionary Deep Space Network (DSN), a communications grid that provides the backbone of antennas and satellite links that track and control spacecraft launched from Earth, continues to play an integral role in the United States' quest to explore space. Douglas J. Mudgway participated in the successful development and operation of the DSN from its infancy in the

Overview

NASA's visionary Deep Space Network (DSN), a communications grid that provides the backbone of antennas and satellite links that track and control spacecraft launched from Earth, continues to play an integral role in the United States' quest to explore space. Douglas J. Mudgway participated in the successful development and operation of the DSN from its infancy in the 1960s to its maturity in the 1990s. In Big Dish, he shares the story of the dedicated engineers who turned the initial vision into reality. Set against the Cold War race for technical supremacy in space, it is a story of international politics, intrigue, and amazing scientific feats.

Mudgway offers unprecedented inside views of both NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the antennas that have been indispensable in missions to the farthest reaches of our solar system. These gigantic instruments-about one acre in surface area and weighing over 6 million pounds-are among the largest of their kind ever constructed. Located at remote sites in California, Spain, and Australia, they have provided an international community of scientists with a deep space connection to the planets that has enabled unmanned spacecraft to return a wealth of data to Earth. Radio astronomers, too, have engaged these instruments to probe the mysteries of the cosmos.

Mudgway describes how these exquisite instruments work, how they came into being, and the problems encountered in their construction and in enhancing their performance over time to meet the demands of ever more ambitious planetary missions. He discusses the complexities of deep space communications and introduces readers to the human story of perseverance and ingenuity that have sustained these great antennas for more than forty years.

Editorial Reviews

Choice
"A compelling account of the crucial role that the Deep Space Network has played in some of NASA’s most successful robotic missions to the outer solar system. The book is written for nonexperts and will appeal to a wide range of space enthusiasts, engineers, and scientists. Highly recommended."
Spaceflight: Magazine of Astronautics & Outer Space
"A great history of the ground based section of the exploration of space."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813028057
Publisher:
University Press of Florida
Publication date:
04/28/2005
Edition description:
Second Edition
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are Saying About This

Sky and Telescope
"The story of ground stations for interplanetary space missions is largely neglected. Big Dish tries to fill the gap."

Meet the Author

Douglas J. Mudgway is an independent consultant for NASA on the history of deep space planetary communications. After thirty years active service at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, he retired in 1991 and received the NASA Exceptional Achievement medal. He is author of Uplink-Downlink: A History of the Deep Space Network, 1957-1997.

 

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