Segments in this Video

Mars Antenna: Statement of the Problem (02:18)


The DSS-14 Mars Antenna receives data from Voyager 1, traveling in deep space. Computer graphics illustrate an oil leak in a hydrostatic bearing, causing the antenna to be thrown out of alignment. Learn what it will take to repair the leak.

Key Players at Goldstone Observatory (04:11)

Meet the key players of the repair team at the Goldstone Observatory. The estimated downtime for the repair is 8 months. The grout supporting the huge hydrostatic bearing has broken down because of oil seepage.

Bearing Removal (01:46)

Follow step-by-step as workers take the weight off the axle on an elevated bearing. Hydraulic jacks life the 2-million-pound antenna to accomplish this. Hydraulic fluid builds pressure behind the bearing to pop it off. A crane pulls the heavy bearing off the axle and lowers it to the ground.

Precision Splices (03:29)

The DSS-14 Mars Antenna can receive even the weakest signals from deep space. Computer graphics show how this giant telecommunications system works.

Voyager Spacecraft (02:44)

Meet Dr. Stone, the man who built the Voyager 1 that was launched in 1977. The two Voyager spacecrafts are nearly outside of Earth's solar system. Valuable data from the spacecraft can only be heard if the Deep Space Network (DSN) is working.

How to Lift 7 Million Pounds (03:04)

Twelve hydraulic jacks lift the 7-million-pound antenna 1/4-inch.

Bracing the Antenna (02:50)

The crane operator lifts each 22,000-pound leg, holding the weight steady enough to slide in the huge steel pins connecting it to the antenna. Pins holding the legs in place do not go in smoothly.

Steel Runner (03:37)

Moving the huge piece of 80-foot-diamiter steel runner on which the antenna turns is an enormous and dangerous job. Follow the steps the workers take to begin this project. Each of the 11 22,000-lb. pieces of steel runner will be moved on cushions of air to pull them out and away from the antenna.

Damaged Grout (01:53)

With the steel runners gone, workers can see the damaged grout. The job is to remove the grout and leave a smooth surface on which to rest the runners. The concrete surface beneath is pressure washed.

Rewiring Antenna Dish (04:00)

The deep space mission uses radio waves to communicate across the solar system. This system is also used to control and receive data from the Mars rover Curiosity. Learn how signals from spacecraft are collected by the antenna dish and how data information is translated to instruments below.

Asteroids (02:58)

At least 150 tons of space material hit Earth's atmosphere each day. The DSN can pinpoint and track extremely fast moving space objects. Size, shape, and the composition of asteroids indicate where they come from and where they are going.

Importance of Measurement (05:30)

Learn how and why metrology or the science of measuring is critical to the high-precision work on the DSS-14. Epoxy grout is mixed and poured to reach the runner sole plate.

Final Alignment (02:53)

Aligning the first runner plate is crucial to the success of the project. This process takes several days. New runner plates are installed meticulously to keep a smooth pressure

Runner Segments (02:01)

With runner segments in place, the next step is to lock them down. Eleven runners have to come together within 10/1,000 of an inch. The joints are critical to keep the antenna moving properly. Computer animation shows how this process is carried out.

Testing the Antenna (05:19)

NASA's DSS-14 is put to the test. If it successfully communicates with a deep space probe, the repair work is a success. Meanwhile, a bearing fails to communicate with the control center. Then everything works.

Credits: NASA’s DSS-114 Mars Antenna: World's Toughest Fixes, Season 2 (00:14)

Credits: NASA’s DSS-114 Mars Antenna: World's Toughest Fixes, Season 2

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NASA’s DS-114 Mars Antenna: World's Toughest Fixes, Season 2

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Follow master rigger Sean Riley to the Mojave Desert, where he teams up with NASA for one of the biggest fixes yet: the DS-114 Mars Antenna. The Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex (GDSCC)—commonly called the Goldstone Observatory—is operated for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and its main purpose is to track and communicate with space missions. It includes the Pioneer Deep Space Station, which is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. This aging antenna has supported space science since 1966, but after working 24/7 for decades, it needs to be shut down for major repairs. We'll get under the hood of this nearly 7-million-pound giant to switch out a critical part of the enormous hydrostatic bearing, allowing it to resume its accurate tracking capabilities. You won’t want to miss this exciting film as we witness Riley repairing a truly remarkable machine! A National Geographic Production. (50 minutes)

Length: 50 minutes

Item#: BVL52274

Copyright date: ©2010

Closed Captioned

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