Communications System

How does DS1's communications system work?

What new communications features are being used by DS1?

There are three brand-new features on DS1. One is that DS1 will be testing a higher frequency for radio transmissions, known as Ka-band, for some communications. This technology experiment consists of a very compact, rugged device that amplifies the Ka-band signal before it is transmitted through the antenna. These transmissions will be used to help evaluate whether Ka-band should be used in future missions.

Another new feature is what is called Beacon Monitor Operations. An autonomous onboard system diagnoses the spacecraft's condition. Then the Beacon Monitor Operations system selects one of four signals to transmit back to Earth. These signals are simple and can be picked up by small receivers. The signals are:

Figure from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory Deep Space One Web Site:

With this system, the huge DSN receivers will only need to be used when the Beacon Monitor Operations says there is a problem or something else in particular to pay attention to. This eliminates the need to use a large amount of NASA resources to receive routine data from DS1.

The third new feature is called the Small Deep Space Transponder. This device combines many separate telecommunications system functions into one unit. This unit is one-half the mass of what previously would have been needed. Future space projects that use the transponder will be saved the burden of designing their own telecommunications systems, and will be able to take the advantage of these modern components and small mass.

What is frequency?
What makes DS1 send distress signals?
What is the Deep Space Network?
How often is DS1 in communication with Earth?
What new technologies are being tested on DS1?

What kind of data is DS1 sending back?
How much data is DS1 able to transfer?
What components are where on DS1?
Why is mass important?

What radio frequency does DS1 use for communications?
What is the small deep space transponder?