This winter an unprecedented number of spacecraft will need to call
home. Playing a critical role in these planetary missions is NASA’s
Deep Space Network, which provides the primary means of communicating
between distant spacecraft and Earth. With antennas in Spain,
Australia and California’s Mojave Desert, the network has the ability
to provide radio communications with spacecraft at all times.

Peter Doms, manager of development and operation of the Deep Space
Network, will describe the recent upgrades to support this planetary
boom on Thursday evening, Nov. 20, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, and on Friday evening, Nov. 21, at Pasadena City College.

"We have upgraded our network to be there right when the missions need
us," said Doms. Among the upgrades is the addition of a new 34-meter
(110-feet) antenna in Madrid, which began operations this month.

Commanding the spacecraft and returning science and engineering data
are especially important during critical mission events, such as orbit
insertions and landings. Among the missions supported by the network
are the Mars Exploration Rovers that will land on Mars in January; the
Stardust mission that will collect comet dust in January; the
Cassini-Huygens mission that will probe the rings and moons of Saturn
beginning in July; and the Genesis mission which is collecting solar
wind particles for return to Earth in September. The Deep Space
Network will support these key events in addition to its current
workload of tracking 26 missions.

The free lectures are part of JPL’s Theodore von K·rm·n Lecture
Series. Both will begin at 7 p.m. Seating is on a first-come,
first-served basis. The Thursday lecture will be in JPL’s von K·rm·n
Auditorium at 4800 Oak Grove Dr., off the Oak Grove Drive exit of the
210 (Foothill) Freeway. The Friday lecture will be in Pasadena City
College’s Vosloh Forum, 1570 E. Colorado Blvd. For more information,
call (818) 354-0112. Thursday’s lecture will be webcast live and
available afterwards at