How does NASA communicate with spacecraft?

Messages travel through space as radio waves, just like the radio waves that you receive with a car radio. Each spacecraft has a transmitter and a receiver for radio waves as well as a way of interpreting the information received and acting on it. Radio waves from a spacecraft need to be received on Earth, and are often quite weak when they get there. NASA has huge radio receivers to gather information from space missions. These must be precisely aimed so they can get the waves. Likewise, NASA must precisely aim transmissions to spacecraft so that these ships can hear the messages.

Ask any question below to learn about how messages travel in space.

What are uplink and downlink?
What is DSN?
How much time on the DSN will DS1 get?
What are radio waves?
What is frequency?
What could go wrong with communications?
What interferes with radio waves?
How is data put on radio waves?
How does DS1's communications system work?

Why does it take so long for the radio waves to travel through space?
Why do communications get harder at greater distances?

How do you make a radio wave?
How is data processing managed?
What type of radio waves are uplinked?