Red Planet Calling: How Mars Probes Phone Home

With four spacecraft from three space agencies on the way to Mars, a communications crunch at the Red Planet is hardly unexpected. But managers of NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) believe they are ready to handle the traffic. The network is Earth’s prime hotline for planetary and deep space missions launched by NASA and other space agencies. It includes tracking stations in Australia, Spain and California responsible for receiving signals from all of the Mars probes, as well as the Cassini mission to Saturn and Stardust’s Wild-2 comet rendezvous among others.