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The Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope is located on the plains of San Agustin, 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Socorro, New Mexico, and is owned and operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which, in turn, is operated by Associated Universities, Inc. under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.
After the successful Voyager encounter with Uranus, the Network demonstrated the capability of combining signals from the radio astronomy antenna at Parkes, Australia, with the Network antennas at Tidbinbilla. The planned Voyager encounter in August 1989 presented an additional challenge to the Network. During the period prior to the Voyager encounter at Uranus, Network personnel had negotiated with the great radio observatories of the world to combine signals with the deep-space stations. The director of the VLA had agreed to equip the 27 antennas with X-band receivers in order to communicate with Voyager at Neptune. This combination, together with the Goldstone antennas, made possible significant science data return, particularly for imaging the planet and its satellite and for detecting rings around Neptune.
Since the successful encounter at Neptune, the VLA has been used in combination with the Goldstone 70-meter antenna as a radar science instrument. This has made possible the generation of new planetary science data, including the first detection by radar of Saturn's satellite Titan. If the Galileo spacecraft had not had problems with its high-gain antenna, the VLA would have been used for the return of Galileo data at Io since this data return would have occurred in the communications gap between the Madrid and Goldstone.
DSN Picture Album.