More dishes for Tidbinbilla

johnboy 23 December 2010 10

tidbinbilla [Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]

NASA has announced two new 34 metre dishes for their Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex at Tindbinbilla.

The 34-meter beam waveguide antennas are essential to keep communications flowing smoothly as NASA’s fleet of spacecraft continues to expand. In addition, the waveguide design of the antennas provides easier access for maintenance and future upgrades, because sensitive electronics are housed in a below-the-ground pedestal equipment room, instead of in the center of the dish.

“As a result of several studies, it was determined that arrays of 34-meter beam waveguide antennas were the best solution to long-term continuation of DSN 70-meter capabilities,” said Miguel Marina, who manages the 70-meter replacement task force at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “The new antennas are critical communication resources for all current and future NASA missions.”

Sadly the really big 70 metre dishes are being phased out. But it’s still a great day trip out there!


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10 Responses to More dishes for Tidbinbilla
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RadioVK RadioVK 9:11 am 31 Aug 12

Deref said :

T1G3R said :

aww not the big one 🙁

I hope they don’t dismantle it. Surely it’d be better to upgrade the RF bits and make use of its greater collecting capacity?

I believe that the biggest problem with the old dish is structural and mechanical. Specifically the drive system that steers the dish is passed its use by date and would be un-economical to repair. To be fair, the dish is early 1960’s vintage, and it was probably never considered at the time that it would see a service life of Almost 50 years.

I had heard a rumour a few years ago that they were going to fix it permanently into a set position and open it up to public tours, but I don’t know what might have happened to that plan.

Deref Deref 8:53 am 31 Aug 12

T1G3R said :

aww not the big one 🙁

I hope they don’t dismantle it. Surely it’d be better to upgrade the RF bits and make use of its greater collecting capacity?

RadioVK RadioVK 8:49 am 31 Aug 12

My father has some great stories of having to climb out on the big dish in a howling gale to replace the mylar covers over the feed horns during the Apollo/Skylab missions.

Those were the days. Technicians were tough, and the phraes OH&S didn’t exist.

Aiwass Aiwass 3:43 am 31 Aug 12

A little late but anyway;

The 34 Metre refers to the diameter of the dish.
The beam waveguide refers to the way the RF (Radio Frequency) signal is transmitted from the feed point on the dish to the cryogenically cooled low noise amplifiers.
The signal is a beam of microwave energy that is carried through the structure by a network of dichroic mirrors that reflect the signal from the focal point of the dish to the equipment or vice versa for the transmit side.

This is why they are called 34 Metre Beam Waveguide Antennas.

LSWCHP LSWCHP 4:56 pm 29 Dec 10

It’s good that they’re putting in some more kit out there, but the actual words of the press release sound like complete gibberish from a technical perspective. What do they mean by a “waveguide antenna”? If they just mean that the RF feed uses waveguide, well, there’s nothing very special about that. Do they mean that the antennas are slotted waveguide phased arrays perhaps? And why is the *beam* described as being “34 metres”? 34 metres in what dimension?

Can anyone who knows something about this shed a little light?

reepy reepy 1:22 pm 29 Dec 10

Just watch out for the killer pot holes on the drive there.

D2 D2 9:21 am 24 Dec 10

So sad to see the big dish go, but technology moves on.

T1G3R T1G3R 7:11 pm 23 Dec 10

aww not the big one 🙁

GottaLoveCanberra GottaLoveCanberra 5:04 pm 23 Dec 10

Thanks for.. dishing… out the news on this one Johnboy!

Swaggie Swaggie 3:03 pm 23 Dec 10

and the cafe there still serves the best pies in Canberra…grab a Gourmet pie and give yourselves a taste sensation.

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