The iconic 70-meter antenna at NASA’s Deep Space Network site in Goldstone, Calif., was returned to service Nov. 1 following a seven-month overhaul expected to extend the life of the half-century-old dish at least another 15 years.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., spent the month of October testing the antenna, officially known as Deep Space Station 14, to ensure it was in working order and fully functional, as scheduled, by Nov. 1.
“We’ve been testing the antenna since Sept. 28, and we’ve had no problems when tracking the spacecraft,” Peter Hames, a JPL engineer responsible for maintaining the Deep Space Network’s antennas, said in a Nov. 1 statement announcing completion of the upgrade.
During the upgrade process, workers raised a portion of the antenna that weighs 3.2 million kilograms up from its base and replaced bearings that enable the antenna to rotate horizontally and track up and down from the horizon.
Helping JPL with the project was ITT Corp. of White Plains, N.Y., and Diani Building Corp. of Santa Maria, Calif.
Deep Space Station 14 has been informally known as the Mars antenna since March 1966 when it received the first signal from the Mariner 4 mission to Mars.
The refurbished antenna is expected to remain in service through at least 2025, NASA said in the press release.