DSS43 is part of a larger Deep Space Network that ensures all spacecraft beyond the Moon can get in touch as long as there’s a line of sight to Earth. This dish is the only one that can communicate with Voyager 2, however. The craft is so far away (11.6 billion miles) that Northern Hemisphere antennas can’t get in touch, and DSS43 is the only Southern Hemisphere dish powerful enough to send commands.

The upgrades will be crucial for more than just Voyager 2 when the dish officially goes back online in February 2021. NASA expects its Perseverance rover to land on Mars on February 18th, and DSS43 could play a key role in that mission. It may also be vital for upcoming Moon missions and, eventually, crewed trips to Mars. What money NASA invests now could easily pay dividends for decades of future space exploration.

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