Image: ESA's deep-space tracking station at New Norcia, Australia

August 5, 2015, European Space Agency
Credit: D. O’Donnell/ESA – CC BY-SA 3.0

This image shows the 35 m-diameter dish antenna of ESA's deep-space tracking station at New Norcia, Australia, illuminated by ground lights against the night sky on 3 August 2015.

New Norcia (DSA-1) is part of the Agency's Estrack ground station network; it is located 140 km north of Perth, Western Australia, about 8 km from the town of New Norcia.

Estrack is a global system of providing links between satellites in orbit and the European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany. The core network comprises 10 stations in seven countries. 

The essential task of all ESA tracking stations is to communicate with , transmitting commands and receiving scientific data and spacecraft status information.

Our technically advanced stations can track spacecraft almost anywhere – circling Earth, watching the Sun, orbiting at the scientifically crucial Sun–Earth Lagrange points or voyaging deep into our Solar System.

Like its sister 35 m stations at Cebreros, Spain, and Malargüe, Argentina, New Norcia uses advanced European technology to communicate with deep-space missions such as Mars Express, Rosetta, BepiColombo and Gaia.

ESA shares Estrack capacity with other space agencies, who in turn support ESA missions. For example, NASA's Deep Space Network routinely supports Rosetta and Mars Express, while Estrack is working with Japan's Hayabusa-2 asteroid mission.

In recent years, Estrack has supported missions operated by China and Russia, as well as tracking the descent of NASA rovers to the surface of Mars.

This global cooperation allows all agencies to make use of a wide number of ground stations in geographically advantageous locations, maximising efficiency and boosting scientific returns for all.

In 2015, Estrack turns 40 and will celebrate four decades of linking people with spacecraft travelling to the frontiers of human knowledge.

Explore further: Image: New Norcia deep-space ground tracking station

Related Stories

Image: New Norcia deep-space ground tracking station

March 18, 2015

Twelve years ago this month, in March 2003, ESA inaugurated a new deep-space ground tracking station 8 km south of the town of New Norcia, which is about 150 km north of Perth, in Western Australia.

Four decades of tracking European spacecraft

May 19, 2015

Forty years ago this week, a satellite ground station in Spain became the first to be assigned to what would become ESA. Since then, the network – Estrack – has expanded worldwide and today employs cutting-edge technology ...

Tracking Japan's asteroid impact mission

April 30, 2015

ESA is set to support Japan's 'touch-and-go' Hayabusa-2 spacecraft, now en route to a little-known asteroid, helping to boost the scientific return from this audacious mission.

Huge new ESA tracking station is ready for duty

November 5, 2012

To keep in contact with an ever growing armada of spacecraft ESA has developed a tracking station network called ESTRACK. This is a worldwide system of ground stations providing links between satellites in orbit and ESA's ...

Tracking spacecraft through the cosmos music contest

August 5, 2015

Musicians, composers and audio buffs are invited to help celebrate 40 years of ESA's tracking station network. Create some truly cosmic sound and you may win impressive prizes, including a trip to our anniversary gala event ...

ESA transmits first-ever telecommands to Chinese satellite

November 1, 2007

For the first time, ESA tracking stations have transmitted telecommands to a Chinese satellite. This morning at 07:15 CET (06:15 UTC), China's mission control reported that commands transmitted from Maspalomas station had ...

Recommended for you

Magnetized inflow accreting to center of Milky Way galaxy

August 17, 2018

Are magnetic fields an important guiding force for gas accreting to a supermassive black hole (SMBH) like the one that our Milky Way galaxy hosts? The role of magnetic fields in gas accretion is little understood, and trying ...

First science with ALMA's highest-frequency capabilities

August 17, 2018

The ALMA telescope in Chile has transformed how we see the universe, showing us otherwise invisible parts of the cosmos. This array of incredibly precise antennas studies a comparatively high-frequency sliver of radio light: ...

Another way for stellar-mass black holes to grow larger

August 17, 2018

A trio of researchers with The University of Hong Kong, Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Taiwan and Northwestern University in the U.S., has come up with an alternative theory to explain how some ...

Six things about Opportunity's recovery efforts

August 17, 2018

NASA's Opportunity rover has been silent since June 10, when a planet-encircling dust storm cut off solar power for the nearly-15-year-old rover. Now that scientists think the global dust storm is "decaying"—meaning more ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.