Tracking Systems and Applications

Section 335 provides world-leading capability and expertise in a wide range of technologies that are critical to spacecraft tracking and related applications. The Section supports NASA's deep-space missions by providing to the JPL navigators a unique and extremely precise radiometric data type delta differential one-way range, or DDOR derived from spacecraft radio-frequency (RF) tones and natural RF sources.


The Section also delivers to JPL navigators a host of other products that are required for deep space navigation with any ground-based tracking techniques. These include celestial and terrestrial reference frame coordinates, Earth orientation parameters, and calibrations to account for the effects of the Earth's troposphere and ionosphere on RF metric tracking data-types. The Section provides the Deep Space Network (DSN) with the precision frequency and time distribution systems, and expertise required for operations. The Section is a leader in developing and delivering advanced arraying technology to coherently combine signals from multiple DSN antennas.


For terrestrial and near-Earth users the Section offers the highest accuracy Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)-based positioning and timing products and services. These include unique global tracking infrastructure, advanced instruments for high accuracy positioning and Earth remote sensing science, software for analysis and real-time operations, as well as precision orbit determination and mission support services. The Section leverages these capabilities to develop precision position determination systems for distributed spaceborne instruments and spacecraft formations, including the capability to perform detailed systems analysis for design and performance of these and other future tracking systems. The Section also performs extensive scientific investigations using its technologies in the areas of planetary dynamics, astrophysics, astrometry and radio astronomy, gravitational waves, geophysics, and fundamental physics.