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Why Is NASA Building This Giant Soccer Ball?

Illustration for article titled Why Is NASA Building This Giant Soccer Ball?

Because it has a goal! But a different kind of goal to the ones found in soccer: instead, it’s one to put American astronauts on Mars.

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This bright white ball–a radome, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida–is one of the numerous steps in the ground systems development crucial to achieving that aim. In the photo above you can see technicians building the orb, which is a weatherproof protective enclosure for a new S-band antenna (the thing on the left) which was designed to provide complex tracking capability following liftoff of the agency’s Space Launch System rocket. When it’s finished, it’ll combine voice, television, telemetry, command, tracking and ranging into a single system. Clever.

Illustration for article titled Why Is NASA Building This Giant Soccer Ball?
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Illustration for article titled Why Is NASA Building This Giant Soccer Ball?

Photos: NASA/Kim Shiflett

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DISCUSSION

As long as they take a few go-pros along. Heck... Belay that. Each mars walker should carry a go-pro and a 3D video capturing camera. If they want to go then I would sincerely appreciate it greatly if they could be so kind as to take the rest of us there as well - Albeit through various multimedia formats.

Natural color preferably. The astronauts should be able to calibrate the equipment there so that the video corresponds to what they are seeing. Right?