Oct. 4 (UPI) -- NASA unveiled a new space communications antenna at the Alaska Satellite Facility in Fairbanks this week. The new antenna, AS-2, which sits atop the Elvey building at University of Alaska Fairbanks, will retrieve data from NASA's spacecraft.
NASA operates three space communications networks, the Deep Space Network, Space Network and Near Earth Network. AS-2 will boost the capacity of the Near Earth Network, which supports space satellites orbiting within 1.2 million miles from Earth.
The Near Earth Network services several Earth-observing satellites, including NASA's Aqua, Aura and Soil Moisture Active Passive satellites. The antenna fields data within two main frequency ranges, S-band and X-band.
Scientists and researchers at the university are happy to have the antenna nearby. Its data has fueled a variety of doctorate research projects.
"When we installed the new antenna, people stopped by and told us their stories about it," Joe O'Brien, the AS-2 project manager at UAF, said in a news release. "It was kind of neat to hear people's connection to the antenna, to know they care about it."