Press Release

NASA Invites Children, Families to Investigate Tracking and Data Relay Satellite Project

By SpaceRef Editor
November 15, 2012
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GREENBELT, Md. — NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Visitor Center in Greenbelt, Md., will host this month’s Sunday Experiment on Nov. 18 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST. It’s a free afternoon for elementary-aged school children and their families with a look at how NASA explores space and studies Earth from space using satellites and other technology.

This month’s Sunday Experiment will explore NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite project. The TDRS project at NASA Goddard is building three new Tracking and Data Relay Satellites: TDRS K, L and M. Nine TDRS spacecraft are currently in geosynchronous orbit. Together they form the space-based communication relay network known as the Space Network (SN).

The SN is made up of seven TDRS spacecraft that are responsible for relaying more than 40 different spacecrafts’ data to the ground 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The TDRS constellation is responsible for gathering data from low-Earth orbiting spacecraft such as the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA’s Earth-observing fleet of satellites and the International Space Station, and transmitting it to TDRS ground terminals. Once the data arrives at the ground terminals, it is sent out to the spacecraft’s data processing facilities across the country. The communication also works the opposite direction with controllers on the ground using the SN to send commands like “Hey, satellite, turn your camera on!” to spacecraft.

TDRS K is the first of the third generation of TDRS satellites and is scheduled for launch in January 2013. This generation of TDRS will ensure that NASA’s communication needs are met for many years to come.

In addition to celebrating all things science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the Sunday Experiment celebrates major science missions that are managed by NASA Goddard and set to launch in the near future. The Sunday Experiment is a place where children and adults alike can discover the excitement of Goddard through fun and engaging activities.

Sunday Experiment, held the third Sunday of each month, spotlights Goddard’s world-renowned science and engineering research, and technological developments. Families leave inspired by the activities, wowed by the scientists and engineers, and excited about Goddard’s revolutionary research and technology.

For more information on Sunday Experiment, visit Goddard’s Visitor Center webpage:

For more information and directions to the NASA Goddard Visitor’s Center, visit: and

SpaceRef staff editor.