Posted on 14 March 2016 by Daniel
To catch a signal
This is the joint ESA/ASI engineering team at Malindi ground station, in Kenya, seen a couple days ago during the final ExoMars launch rehearsal. They will be the most-watched team anywhere later tonight, when their 2m-diameter tracking...
Posted on 14 January 2016 by Daniel
ESA Perth: 30 years of tracking excellence
For thirty years, the Perth tracking facilities were operated by ESA as part of the Agency’s worldwide ground-station network, Estrack.
Posted on 3 December 2015 by Daniel
Update from Kourou tracking station
This just in from ESA's Dieter Amend at Kourou tracking station, our 15m ground station located not too far from the Vega launch pad.
Posted on 24 November 2015 by Daniel
To catch a speeding satellite: Estrack redevelopment do...
The tracking station at New Norcia will be improved by the addition of a 4.5-m antenna for signal acquisition and tracking during the critical initial orbits of new missions.
Posted on 8 September 2015 by Daniel
First results – #Estrack40 audio contest
The first slice of selectees in the Estrack 40th anniversary audio contest via SoundCloud have just been announced (see playlist in this post).
Posted on 26 March 2015 by Daniel
ESA tracking stations support Soyuz
Estrack engineers Gerhard Billig and Robert Launer have been at Santa Maria and Perth, respectively, for a number of days now, helping configure the stations for launcher tracking.
Posted on 15 May 2014 by Daniel
Sending a signal into the future
On 15 May, ESA’s 35m deep-space tracking station located at Cebreros, 77 kms west of Madrid, Spain, transmitted a 35-MB archive file containing the Top 10 video selfies from the Rosetta Wake Up campaign into space. (If...
Posted on 7 April 2014 by Daniel
Separation in space: the backstory
This superb footage was acquired by cameras on the Soyuz Fregat upper stage that released Sentinel-1 into orbit on 3 April 2014. It shows the Sentinel-1 satellite separating from the Fregat to start its life in orbit...
Posted on 3 April 2014 by Daniel
ESA ground tracking network supports Soyuz VS07 today
In addition to tracking satellites in Earth orbit (or 5AU away in deep space), ESA's Estrack station network can also receive signals from launchers. Today, a team of ESA engineers from ESOC supported by an industry contractor...
Posted on 17 December 2013 by Daniel
Perth tracking station
Shortly after a powerful Soyuz launcher lofts Gaia, ESA’s new star mapper, into space on Thursday, teams on the ground will establish initial radio contact. Even then, tension will run high in ESA’s mission control as Gaia must still perform a critical automatic sequence. Before separation from the Fregat upper stage, Gaia will ‘phone home’, sending a first radio signal to ESA’s Australian Perth ground station to inform controllers of its immediate health status. We dug up some nice background footage showing day-to-day operations at Perth station, courtesy of the Estrack engineering team at ESOC. Enjoy! More information: Mission control ready for Gaia launch
Posted on 23 October 2013 by Daniel
NASA is now communicating with spacecraft via laser
There was a nice update yesterday relating to one of our previous posts, Space laser to prove increased broadband possible, reporting on how an ESA optical ground station will take part in a laser communication test with NASA later this year. The news? Looks like the first tests, between a NASA ground station and that Agency's LADEE Moon mission, were a success! (We'll post news on ESA's coming participation in the Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration shortly.) Via NASA NASA's Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) has made history using a pulsed laser beam to transmit data over the 239,000 miles between the moon and Earth at a record-breaking download rate of 622 megabits...
Posted on 14 January 2013 by Daniel
Cassini-Huygens eight years later: Modest hero sparks t...
ESOC radio engineer Boris Smeds has become a modest celebrity for his single-handed discovery of a fatal design flaw in Huygens' radio relay link; one magazine credibly dubbed him a "hero." But developing the mission recovery plan required a team effort involving hundreds. Editor's note: Repost of an article published in January 2005. Today marks the 8th anniversary of the landing of ESA's Huygens – delivered by NASA's Cassini – on Titan. The touchdown remains today the farthest landing ever made by a human artefact. Media interest in the little-known story of how the Huygens mission was recovered from near-certain disaster started to grow last fall as the joint NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens mission neared its...