Friday, January 22, 2010

Satellite tracking and the origins of the USB

I'm reading the Goddard Space Flight Centre's guide to using the STDN (Spaceflight Tracking and Data Network), of which the Orroral Valley Tracking Station was a part.  It was written in 1974, when the network had been in existence for about 15 years or so.  (In fact it's getting quite hard to work out the divisions between the networks - DSN, MSFN, STADAN, STDN, etc).

(And there is an antenna called SATAN).

I've never thought about what USB stands for before.  But the following quote from the STDN User's Guide suggests that this is its origin:

The two 9-meter telemetry antennas (BDA and VAN) are receive only in the 2200- to 2300-MHz and 225- to 260-MHz bands and the 4.3- meter antenna (WNK) receives in the 400- to 402-MHz band. The 4.3-meter, 9-meter, and 26-meter Unified S-band (USB) antennas have both transmit and receive capability but receive only the 2200- to 2300-MHz band. (The terminology USB derived from 

the fact that multiple support functions may be accomplished by this single "unified" system).

Goddard Space Flight Centre  1974  STDN User’s Guide Baseline Document.  Revision 2.  NASA-TE-X-72932 p 1-4


  1. Not to be confused with the Universal Serial Bus. :)

  2. Oh well, what do I know about computers ......

  3. Only mentioned it because I did confuse the two. Oh well...

  4. By the way, I'm doing a geophys survey of Orroral Valley in a couple of weeks - magnetometer and EM - do you have any thoughts or advice?

  5. What are the potential targets, and what's the geology like? Presumably igneous, you may have issues with magnetic survey. Targets would need to be metallic (i.e. large steel girders) for a magnetometer to be able to differentiate between targets and igneous geology... and even that would be difficult (assuming the geology is igneous).

    EM should still work relatively well.

  6. I'm interested in the identifying the extent of the 1980s demolition, and in locating remnant cables etc from the antennas to the control rooms, stuff like that. I'm not sure about the geology - I'll have to ask my geophysicist, the elegant I. Moffat.