NASA said: “While DSS-23 will function as a radio antenna, it will also be equipped with mirrors and a special receiver for lasers beamed from distant spacecraft.
“This technology is critical for sending astronauts to places like Mars.
“Humans there will need to communicate with Earth more than NASA’s robotic explorers do, and a Mars base, with its life support systems and equipment, would buzz with data that needs to be monitored.”
Larry James, deputy director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said: “The DSN is Earth’s one phone line to our two Voyager spacecraft — both in interstellar space — all our Mars missions, and the New Horizons spacecraft that is now far past Pluto.
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