Australia’s scientific body to provide support for European Space Agency’s tracking station

CANBERRA, Dec. 14 (Xinhua) — Australia’s peak scientific body has been chosen to take over day-to-day operations at the European Space Agency’s (ESA) deep space tracking center in Western Australia.

The station at New Norcia, 130 km northeast of Perth, will be maintained by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), it was announced on Friday, with the ESA to continue remotely controlling its spacecraft and satellites via the station.

The ESA control center in Germany uses a 35-meter antenna at the station to track, control and receive data from its spacecraft exploring the solar system.

CSIRO’s takeover, which will begin in March 2019, marks the first time that an Australian organization will manage day-to-day operations at the New Norcia station.

“Since 1979, Australia and ESA have had treaties in place to enable European Space Agency ground stations on Australian soil to track spacecraft and interplanetary missions and Australia has unique view of the Southern Hemisphere sky that provides us with a natural advantage for viewing the Universe,” Australia’s Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said in a media release on Friday.

“The facility at New Norcia has been in operation since 2003 and now, for the first time, an Australian organization will provide critical maintenance and operational support at the station.”

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