“Houston, we have a problem”
The Ground Stations are the facilities on the Earth’s surface, that receive and process the messages sent by satellites or space ships. These objects that travel around the Earth orbits can be bodies like the Moon (our natural satellite), who are destined to always move around the planet. Some, very few in comparison, are artifacts, sometimes operated, that sail by the space for trying to move is towards objectives far away as the Moon or Mars. In any case, all of them send and emit radio signals to Earth. So, this information is received by the “Ground Station”, that in addition to receiving them the information is processed and sent to a center that has the control total (Houston, for example).
The signal produced by any satellite or space artifact cannot pass through the planet. So, in order to reach the satellite’s information, we need a ground station on earth; with a strategic place so the signal can get to Houston at anytime
For this reason, the Ground Station are various connecting facilities that form a network. Communication between them can be wireless or fiber optic cables – the more modern–that sometimes are underwater. The idea is that several of these create a network that can receive signals from space at any time of the day, 24 hours.
Messages are not always as simple as the one mentioned at the beginning; sometimes are much more complex. For example, sometimes contain technical information on the equipment on Board, the space team or the same team structure. And this information is not necessarily public, in fact it is often reserved or top secret information.
A ground station most characteristic element is the large antenna that always appears on the photos. The dish can have up to 35 meters of diameter. But in addition to the antenna, there are other parts of the installation, usually in a less “photogenic” than the antenna construction, and within which are the computers that process the collected information, if necessary, the unencrypted and forwards it to another point of the network, which as earlier noted, can be via cables or wireless.