ESC touches nearly every NASA mission from launch and early orbit to routine, critical and emergency support on orbit. Acting on our technical expertise, our team affects growth in space communications and technology development across the entire NASA portfolio. We enable groundbreaking science, like the data coming down from Hubble Space Telescope. We are the lifeline that allows astronauts to keep in touch with the world on Earth. Our technology development enables not only updates of existing communications systems, but also the missions of the future and industry's ability to take advantage of new capabilities.
U.S. satellites and space missions communicate almost 30 terabytes of data – three times the size of the Library of Congress’s print collection – a day to Earth. That includes data from the International Space Station, Hubble Space Telescope, the Global Precipitation Measurement mission, and more – a huge trust of knowledge about the universe, the solar system and our own planet. ESC’s communications networks enable 98 percent of that information to reach data centers on Earth where it can be studied and analyzed to reveal new discoveries.
Sending humans to another planet seemed like a pipe dream just years ago, but ESC is helping to make such missions a reality. The work begins with communications system updates, which are already underway, to enable timely and accurate delivery of the maximum amount of data from distant targets. The Exploration Systems Project office develops cost savings opportunities and efficiencies for the agency by adapting and leveraging existing technology for use on NASA’s new Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and in future spacecraft and habitats on distant planets. Their groundbreaking work pushes the boundaries and enables humanity to venture further from home than ever before.
The everyday world sometimes seems far away from the concerns of NASA scientists and technologists, but ESC’s projects have widespread applications across society. Click on these icons to find out more about the unexpected and wide-reaching impact ESC has on critical work here on Earth.
At its core, ESC is a service provider. Just like internet service providers enable the public to communicate, ESC’s unified networks enable NASA to communicate from space. The networks continually exceed expectations of reliability and connectivity, serving as long-term communications solutions for their many customers. Additionally, the Spectrum Management team advocates for the agency nationally and internationally to ensure that spectrum requirements, critical to every mission, are met.
Many of NASA’s robotic satellites are charged with making new scientific discoveries, whether they be about our changing planet or the cosmos.
ESC's integrated networks provide launch and early operations support to our nation’s weather forecasting satellites, ensuring their safe delivery to their designated orbit.
ESC-managed networks provide services to the rockets that launch GPS satellites into orbit. GPS has way-finding and location applicability that are essential to everyday life.
ESC's integrated networks enable telemedicine to be conducted aboard the ISS; this practice is used as a model for caring for people in remote and isolated parts of the world.
NASA’s satellites are constantly looking at the polar ice caps to monitor their change in size over periods of time, which allow scientists to drawn conclusions about how our climate is changing.
Technology developed for space applications often times spins off back into new uses back on Earth. Velcro, anybody?
Educational institutions throughout the world, including NASA’s Office of Education, regularly uses satellite data brought down through ESC-managed networks to educate and inspire the next generation.
Using satellite data brought down through ESC's unified networks, researchers can look at the color of crops in multiple wavelengths to assess their health and prescribe remedies to improve production.
Our networks provide services to our heliophysics missions, which study the sun and predict solar weather. Solar data downlinked through these satellites help television and cellular providers prepare for solar storms that could interrupt service.
Every penny spent on space-based activities is spent right here on Earth, continually boosting the world’s economy and making massive financial impacts.
ESC's Search and Rescue office is the primary provider of research and development work for national and international SAR efforts, including beacons that send a signal to satellites when activated to enable rescues.
Precipitation measurement missions supported by the networks show trends in rainfall, helping our society better predict floods and drought.
The networks provide services to Earth-observing satellites that give firefighters the data they need to strategize against devastating forest fires.
Data brought back through weather satellites help maritime and aviation industries pick the most appropriate and safest routes for their passengers and cargo. ESC's Search and Rescue office provides research and development support to help lost or distressed airplanes and ships.
Like all satellites, defense spacecraft need to hitch a ride to space via rockets. ESC's integrated networks provide critical services to those rockets, ensuring every bit of data on the safety of the payload is in the launch manager’s hands.