This is something I was thinking about right now when this beta was opened ... perfect!
In radio astronomy, there is an technique which is called very long baseline interferometry. The idea is to combine a number of telescopes to resemble a somewhat larger non-existing telescope. The intended purpose is usually described as gaining a higher angular resolution when observing the sky.
Now imagine that you do something similar with a number of dishes somewhere in deep space for the purpose of picking up signals from Earth. Compared to that, current deep space missions such as New Horizons use a fairly large single dish for receiving commands from Earth. Imagine, you instead have a number of small spacecrafts with very small dishes but at high distance to Earth. Imagine that those small space crafts are somehow capable of performing very long baseline interferometry and are supposed to receive commands from Earth.
My question is, could this array of small dishes with the small spacecrafts be used to "substitute" a single bigger dish in this context? Or are an improved angular resolution and picking up signals over long distances somewhat different problems?