I looked at DNS Now to check on Hayabusa-2 and compare to http://haya2now.jp/en.html and saw that DSS 34 in Canberra is currently in setup/teardown for Ground Based Radio Astronomy!

In this status there's no frequency listed on the web page, but we might be able to figure out what it's is currently pointed at using the following:

latitude:   -35.40
longitude:  148.98

azimuth      52.82
elevation  = 56.50

15:47 UTC

But even without that, is there anything known about DSN's activities doing Ground Based Radio Astronomy? How often does this happen? Who is the principle investigator? What kinds of things are studied?

enter image description here

one more

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ GBRA is a pretty common code; I see it on there a lot. $\endgroup$
    – Phiteros
    Dec 17, 2018 at 22:11

1 Answer 1


The basics:

When they are not commu­nicating with spacecraft, the DSN antennas are used for radio astronomy.

For more than 30 years, the Deep Space Network has played a significant role in radio astronomy studies of our solar sys­tem, adding to our under­ standing of the magnetic fields and atmospheres of planets. For example, since 1972 radio astronomers have used the DSN to observe Jupiter, with its intense and dynamic mag­netosphere. DSN astrono­mers use high-performance spectrometers to separate radio frequencies into millions of channels, allowing them to analyze the materials in comets, planetary atmospheres, and clouds of gas or dust in space. The DSN can also respond to observe unforeseen astronomical events such as the appearance of comets Hyakutake and Hale–Bopp.

The Deep Space Network’s large 70-meter antennas in California and Australia have been used to study how stars are born in clouds of gas and dust called nebulae.

The highly sensitive 70-meter DSN antennas have contributed to VLBI studies of extraga­lactic supernovae that are very distant, weak sources of radio emissions.

The high sensitivity, key locations, and special instru­mentation of the radio telescopes of the Deep Space Net­ work make them priceless tools in our quest to understand the universe ...

The JPL DSN radio astronomy website is defunct, but the Internet Archive has a copy from 2013.

Here's a list of studies that used DSN observations. Cherry-picked a few

  • 1967: First intercontinental very long baseline interferometry (VLBI)
  • 1969 First jump in the period of the Vela pulsar detected
  • 1986 First space-based VLBI with TDRSS antenna
  • 1991 Measurement of the relativistic bending of radiation by Jupiter
  • 1995 First image of infall onto a protostar
  • 1997 First images from the HALCA Space VLBI mission

Arxiv has 21 papers that use DSN data, NTRS has more results. (some of these are false positives, there are papers on the use of DSN for communications too)

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ That's quite an impressive amount of research. Thanks for the explanation, and links! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Dec 18, 2018 at 8:29
  • $\begingroup$ There is a typo, not 1957 but 1967 was the First intercontinental very long baseline interferometry (VLBI). $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Dec 19, 2018 at 14:24

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