Below is the current state of the Deep Space network as established from available data updated every 5 seconds. Click a dish to learn more about the live connection between the spacecraft and the ground. The legend (below) shows the various connections between spacecraft and the ground. A carrier is a pure radio 'tone' used to establish communications or for navigation. Data is commands, scientific measurements or housekeeping engineering information. Uplink is commands being sent 'up' to a spacecraft. Downlink is data received from a spacecraft.

  • Uplink Carrier

    Uplink
    Carrier

  • Uplink Data

    Uplink
    Data

  • Downlink Carrier

    Downlink
    Carrier

  • Downlink Data

    Downlink
    Data

Data Sources

DSN Now is driven by real-time data provided by the ground stations of the Deep Space Network and is updated every 5 seconds. It is not referencing a schedule of planned communication sessions.

If all the antenna of one or more of the three complexes are showing no activity it may be a ‘global downtime’ maintenance activity or a temporary glitch in the pipeline of data to DSN Now.

Idiosyncrasies

In off-nominal scenarios when a project may be attempting to recover a spacecraft that is in safe mode or experiencing other operational challenges, an antenna may wrongly report that is receiving data from the spacecraft in question. While the ground station is searching for a signal, it may ‘lock on’ to a signal from a different spacecraft and wrongly identify it as the spacecraft being searched for. This is particularly common with spacecraft at Mars as multiple spacecraft are within the field of view of a single DSN antenna. For example, attempts to recover the Opportunity Rover (MERB) may appear successful when the antenna has actually locked on to a signal from one of the orbiters around Mars such as MAVEN or MRO. When this occurs, engineers ask the antenna to ‘drop lock’ and the hunt for the spacecraft continues.

Engineers occasionally need to conduct system tests with an antenna or its subsystems. These may trigger a flow of data suggesting the antenna is preparing to talk to a non-existent spacecraft such as DOUG or SHAN. These are names the engineers apply to the test they’re conducting so data can be tracked through the subsystems that support DSN operations.

In some instances, testing of hardware that was customized for a long-finished mission may cause a ‘phantom’ spacecraft to appear on DSN Now, such as Cassini.

Further Reading

General information on the DSN is available at the DSN Website.

More information is also available at the Canberra Deep Space Communications Center and the Madrid Deep Space Communications Center.

In-depth reports on the communication subsystems of many of the JPL-led missions with which the DSN has communicated are available at the the DESCANSO Design and Performance summary series page.

DSN Now is currently undergoing maintenance.