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This answer mentions:

It's well known that other countries routinely spy on each other (i.e. the NSA tapping of Angela Merkel's phone).

NASA's Deep Space Network's space-related activities (like most of NASA's activities) are mostly if not completely a matter of public record and for activities of the Deep Space Network you can check the DSN NOW page or look at the history online.

For example at least the frequencies used for the Mars 2020 communications should be retrievable from the DSN XML data should be findable as part of an answer to China, UAE and US all sending missions to Mars in 2020 (Summer of L̶o̶v̶e Mars); how far apart are their frequencies? thought nobody has done this yet.

Also, see answers to:

However from time to time you can see very little or no activity on the DSN now page (all dishes displayed are dark) and of course not all dishes can appear on that page at the same time. Also I thought there was a question here about DSN being completely dark but I can't find it at the moment.

Question: But what about use of the DSN to listen to other space agency's deep space spacecraft? Have there been publicly documented instances of scheduled (and paid-for) DSN listening-in to signals sent by non-NASA missions "just for the heck of it" or perhaps to see if those spacecraft are actually doing what the other space agencies say it is doing?

Note: I am not really asking if you think this happens and nor seeking answers that explain why you are personally sure this doesn't, couldn't or shouldn't happen. Just fact-based answers on hopefully publicly available sources. Thanks!

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    $\begingroup$ I have a similar unasked question in my queue: "Can the U.S. Deep Space Network receive Russian or Chinese spacecraft frequencies?" If this one doesn't receive answers, maybe try that one. $\endgroup$ – DrSheldon Aug 3 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ @DrSheldon - nasa.gov/smallsat-institute/sst-soa/communications basically indicates that any number of different frequency bands have been / may be used for satellite and spacecraft communications. Within those bands, equipment will be able to receive a fairly broad range of frequencies, so receiving another country's transmissions is easy. Decoding may be hard, though. Amateur radio folks were key to identifying Sputnik (tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/07341519908581957), so one would hope that NASA could do at least as well. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Aug 3 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ @DrSheldon I'm interested in "Does" rather than "Can". $\endgroup$ – uhoh Aug 3 at 16:04
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    $\begingroup$ Not current activities by DSNs, but the Soviet tracked all the Apollo missions, via its Space Transmissions Corps $\endgroup$ – Fred Aug 7 at 10:02
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China has done it with NASA

China used signals sent from NASA’s Juno probe orbiting Jupiter to test the capabilities of ground stations vital to its deep space ambitions.

Scientists involved in developing China’s tracking, telemetry and command (TT&C) capabilities listened-in on signals sent from Juno and successfully determined the spacecraft’s Doppler frequency and hence its orbit.

The tests were carried out to assist planning for China’s first independent interplanetary missions, including to Mars in 2020 and launching a probe to Jupiter around 2030. Such missions require to be able to track and communicate with spacecraft over hundreds of millions of kilometers, both sending commands and picking up faint signals that deliver data and telemetry.

China used the 35-meter-diameter dish at Kashi station in Xinjiang in the northwest of the country to track Juno. It also has a 66-meter-diameter dish in Jiamusi, Heilongjiang province in the northeast for deep space activities, including the Chang’e lunar missions.

The information on the tests comes from a 2018 paper in the Journal of Deep Space Exploration, a Chinese publication. The paper was written by scientists attached to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center, the National Astronomical Observatories and other centers across China.

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  • $\begingroup$ It would be great if you were also able to address the question which is about NASA at least in some way. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Aug 10 at 8:16

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