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Screenshot from the Scott Manley's January 30, 2022 video "Deep Space Radiation, Black Holes And Other Questions - Episode 14" https://youtu.be/qtWhv9Ic7Hg Screenshot from the Scott Manley's January 30, 2022 video "Deep Space Radiation, Black Holes And Other Questions - Episode 14" https://youtu.be/qtWhv9Ic7Hg

At about 04:49 in Scott Manley's January 30, 2022 video Deep Space Radiation, Black Holes And Other Questions - Episode 14 a painting by the science fiction and space artist David A. Hardy is included, which shows an astronaut in a space suite sitting on the surface of Io(?) and painting Jupiter on to a canvas sitting upon an easel.

I found this Vector1 article about the artist: Visions of Space: An Interview with David A. Hardy which includes the image below of a "little green person" inspecting what looks like a lander on Mars, titled "BHEN on Mars (1975)". (See also Amazing Stories' The Art of the IAAA: David A. Hardy – The King of Space Art for more)

The lander has a dish antenna pointed skyward sitting at the end of a multi-jointed articulated arm. This got me wondering about real landers, so I'd like to ask:

Question(s):

  1. Has there ever been a dish antenna on a lander destined for someplace beyond Earth2?
  2. If so, which was the first?
  3. How about a first for rovers?

1"Vector is the critical journal of the British Science Fiction Association, publishing articles and features on science fiction and fantasy around the world."

2"destined" means work should be well underway in the design phase or construction phase at a minimum, but it doesn't have to have been launched yet nor successfully landed.

"BHEN on Mars (1975)" from Vector's "Visions of Space: An Interview with David A. Hardy"

"BHEN on Mars (1975)" from Vector's Visions of Space: An Interview with David A. Hardy

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    $\begingroup$ The BHEN on mars seems a pretty accurate representation of a Viking lander of 1975, is there any reason other than wimsy for not using an actual photo? $\endgroup$ Feb 1 at 8:34

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tl:dr

  • The first lander to have a dish antenna was the lunar module for Apollo 11 in July 1969.
  • The first rover to have a dish antenna was the lunar rover for Apollo 15 in August 1971.

Rovers

The first rovers with a dish were the Apollo lunar rovers, (2), (3). The high gain antenna for each was dish shaped, as can be seen in the immediate two pictures following.

enter image description here

Apollo 15

The Apollo lunar rovers were part of the Apollo 15, 16 and 17 missions, from August 1971 to December 1972.

The first rover with a dish antenna was the rover for the Apollo 15 mission in August 1971.

Supplementary Information Concerning Rovers

The Soviet Lunokhod 1 landed in November 1970, but it did not have a dish antenna.

It was equipped with a cone-shaped antenna, a highly directional helical antenna.

After the Lunokhod missions,

Not until the 1997 Mars Pathfinder was another remote-controlled vehicle put on an extraterrestrial body.

Landers

The first soft landing on the Moon was the Soviet Luna 9 in February 1966. It landed using a landing bag to enable it survive an impact speed of 22 km/h. "It was a hermetically sealed container with radio equipment, a program timing device, heat control systems, scientific apparatus, power sources, and a television system". It didn't have a radio dish.

Luna 13 soft landed on the Moon in December 1966. It was a petal encased device with no radio dish.

The 1960s era Surveyor lunar landers did not have dish antennas. Review of the Venus missions reveals none of the Venus landers, all Soviet, had dish antennas: Venera 7 (August 1970), Venera 8 (March 1972), Venera 9 and 10 (June 1975), Venera 11 and Venera 12 (September 1978), Venera 13 and 14 (October & November 1981), Vega 1 and 2 (December 1984).

Surveyor 1 successfully soft landed on the Moon on 30 May 1966. All the Surveyor landers looked the same.

enter image description here

First Lander with a Dish Antenna

The first lander with a dish antenna was the Lunar Module for Apollo 11, in July 1969, which had a small steerable S Band dish. See the top right of the picture below.

enter image description here

Summary

The first lander to have a dish antenna was the lunar module for Apollo 11 in July 1969, a small steerable S Band radio dish. All the other lunar modules (14 to 17) also had the arrangement. No Venus landers had a dish antenna. Viking 1 and 2 on Mars in July 1976 were the first successful soft landing mission on Mars. They both had dish antennas.

enter image description here

The first rover to have a dish antenna was the lunar rover for Apollo 15 in August 1971, which had a dish for a high gain antenna. All the other Apollo lunar rovers had the same arrangement.

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  • $\begingroup$ The more recent NASA landers, Phoenix and Insight, did not have dish antennas. They relied on UHF links to orbiting spacecraft for their primary links to the Earth. That allowed them to use omni-directional antennas which are simpler since you don't have to point them. $\endgroup$ Feb 1 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ The Mars rovers these days have an X-band High Gain Antenna (HGA) which is flat instead of a dish - more compact that way. mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/spacecraft/rover/communications mars.nasa.gov/mer/mission/rover/antennas $\endgroup$ Feb 1 at 20:53

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