The 64 meter antenna at the Usuda Deep Space Complex
Location of Usuda Deep Space Center
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Usuda Deep Space Center is a facility of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. It is a spacecraft tracking station in Saku, Nagano, opened in October, 1984. The main feature of the station is a 64-meter beam waveguide antenna.
Usuda was the first deep-space antenna constructed with beam-waveguide technology. Although this construction dramatically simplifies installation and maintenance of electronics, it was previously thought to offer poor noise performance. However, after the U.S. Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) tested this antenna and found the noise performance was better than its conventional 64-meter antennas, it too switched to this method of construction for all subsequent antennas of their Deep Space Network (DSN).
Because the 64 meter antenna is getting old, JAXA is building a new antenna nearby. This new antenna, called GREAT (Ground Station for Deep Space Exploration and Telecommunication)will be slightly smaller (54 meters in diameter) but have better surface accuracy and hence be capable of working at the higher Ka-band frequencies. This will increase the potential data throughput despite the smaller size.