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Raytheon Completes Satellite Downlink in Antarctica for Critical Weather Systems


 

June 7, 2011

 

A Raytheon Company team successfully completed the third major communications upgrade at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, in support of future scientific and environmental satellite missions. McMurdo is the largest of the three, year-round U.S.-Antarctic Program research stations.

 

The National Science Foundation (NSF) manages the U.S.-Antarctic Program through which it coordinates all U.S. scientific research on the continent in addition to providing logistics support for vessels operating in the Southern Ocean.

 

The third communications upgrade at McMurdo supports several missions that use the station for satellite downlink, including the NASA Near Earth Network Sciences (NENS) McMurdo Ground Station, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) polar-orbiting MetOp satellite mission, and the U.S. Air Force's Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP).

 

The latest upgrade includes an increase in the off-continent communications bandwidth from 20 megabits per second outbound to 60 megabits per second, as well as the integration of an alternate downlink station in Australia to provide higher operational availability of the off-continent link. The significant increase of the available bandwidth to and from McMurdo allows additional polar-orbiting environmental and weather satellite systems to use McMurdo Station as a second downlink site. Raytheon also installed new network infrastructure to provide data routing from McMurdo to each of the NENS, MetOp and DMSP mission processing facilities.

 

"The communications upgrade to the McMurdo facility provides a three-fold increase in the transmission of data from McMurdo with the ability to regulate data streams from different satellites concurrently. These tasks were accomplished on schedule and are a testament to the Raytheon team's dedication, professionalism and engineering expertise," said Craig Weikel, NASA government Command, Control, and Communications lead for the JPSS program.

 

The fourth and final upgrade to the U.S. Antarctic Program's intercontinental communications servicing McMurdo Station will occur during the 2011-2012 austral summer.