Postmark Here

Postcards from Travel Near and Far by Jia-Rui

92310, Goldstone

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The 26-meter research and development antenna at the Venus site

Dear ——–,

You know you’re in the middle of nowhere when the next exit off the freeway is “Ghost Town Road.” I went on a field trip today to Goldstone, where massive antenna that are part of the Deep Space Network talk to and receive signals from spacecraft in outer space. The site was in the middle of the Fort Irwin Army training site, which is in the Mojave Desert. We passed some tanks, a model Iraqi village, and a couple of burros on our way to the massive 70-meter “Mars” antenna. This antenna got its name from its first mission, tracking Mariner 4, which returned the first pictures of the Mars surface. When we visited, this antenna was tracking Voyager 1. It was crazy to think that the spacecraft was 10 billion miles away from us and sending back a signal at one billion-billionth of a watt. Sometimes rain or sudden high winds can affect the quality of the reception, but luckily there’s not much weather out there.

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Author: postmarkhere

I'm a journalist based in Los Angeles who has always said that writing postcards for a living would be a dream job. The posts -- short enough to fit on an actual postcard -- chronicle recent travels near and far. I could blab on about being inspired by epistolary novels, the short poems of Emily Dickinson, and the New Yorker's "Talk of the Town" pieces, but I'll just say that I'm aiming to give you a sense of flavor of a place without boring you to death. Wish you were here!

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