Communications Infrastructure

The Deep Space Network (DSN) is suffering from insufficient communications capability and occasional failures as it ages. Limitations on downlink bandwidth restrict the return of data from spacecraft…. While efforts to increase the transmitter power on spacecraft are valuable, likely it will be less expensive to augment both transmitter power and communications capacity on Earth than to correspondingly increase these factors on all spacecraft. Furthermore, additional ground stations would be valuable to provide geographic redundancy for the system as a whole, and they would grant more freedom in the timing of critical spacecraft events….

The SSE Survey recommends upgrades and increased communications capability for the DSN in order to meet the specific needs for this program of missions throughout the decade, and that this be paid from the technology portion of the Supporting Research and Technology (SR&T) line rather than from the mission budgets.27

International Cooperation

Some future endeavors are so vast in scope or so difficult (e.g., sample return from Mars) that no single nation acting alone may be willing to allocate all of the resources necessary to accomplish them, and the SSE Survey recommends that NASA encourage and continue to pursue cooperative programs with other nations. Not only is the investigation of our celestial neighborhood inherently an international venture, but the U.S. Solar System Exploration program will also benefit programmatically and scientifically from such joint ventures.28



1. National Research Council, New Frontiers in the Solar System: An Integrated Exploration Strategy, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2003, pp. 67-91 and 198-201.


2. New Frontiers, p. 82.


3. New Frontiers, pp. 198-199.


4. New Frontiers, pp. 82-83.


5. New Frontiers, pp. 199-200.


6. New Frontiers, p. 7.


7. New Frontiers, p. 83.


8. New Frontiers, p. 84.


9. New Frontiers, p. 200.


10. New Frontiers, p. 7.


11. New Frontiers, p. 83.


12. New Frontiers, p. 200.


13. New Frontiers, p. 163.


14. New Frontiers, p. 9.


15. New Frontiers, p. 158.


16. New Frontiers, p. 89.


17. New Frontiers, p. 9.


18. New Frontiers, p. 9.


19. New Frontiers, p. 169.


20. New Frontiers, p. 170.


21. New Frontiers, p. 32.


22. New Frontiers, p. 89.


23. New Frontiers, p. 206.


24. New Frontiers, p. 89.


25. New Frontiers, p. 202.


26. New Frontiers, pp. 203-204.


27. New Frontiers, p. 206.


28. New Frontiers, p. 2.

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