Suzanne Dodd is Director of the Interplanetary Network at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, responsible for the Deep Space Network.
Resources are arriving too slowly compared to the demands of Artemis' schedule, she said.
The Deep Space Network consists of 13 giant radio antennas across three locations: Goldstone, USA; Madrid, Spain; and Canberra, Australia. This network sends and receives images, scientific data and information to operate the fleet of devices and vessels scattered throughout the solar system, whether the James Webb telescope, the rovers on Mars or the Parker solar probe. It is also thanks to this network that it is possible to maintain the ultimate long-distance call: between Earth and the Voyager I probe, which continues its journey into interstellar space.
The network, whose first antenna preceded the creation of NASA, has been an essential pillar of all major space missions. But with the proliferation of projects and high-precision instruments, the amount of data exchanged with space has exploded. For example, the James Webb Telescope transmits data at a rate 50 times higher than its predecessor, Hubble.
This summer, NASA's Office of Inspector General also concluded that the network is currently operating at maximum capacity and is overloaded. Data transmission demand exceeds network capacity by 40% at times. Taken together, the agency's missions have been denied in five years at least 8,500 hours and up to 15,000 hours (or 625 days) of air time.
Missions get the minimum of what they need. They don't have what they want. We're not putting the ships at risk, we can operate them, but we're losing a lot of science, and that's the compromise we have to make right now.
A quote from Suzanne Dodd, head of Deep Space Network