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ESA’s Kiruna station is located at Salmijärvi, 38 km east of Kiruna, in northern Sweden. It features two sophisticated terminals with 15 m and 13 m-diameter antennas to communicate with satellites in Earth orbit, including CryoSat-2, Integral, the Swarm trio and Sentinel-1A.
The station is part of the Agency’s tracking station network – Estrack – a worldwide network linking satellites in orbit and ESA’s Space Operations Centre, ESOC, in Darmstadt, Germany.
The core Estrack network comprises 10 stations in seven countries, including three 35 m deep-space dishes in Australia, Spain and Argentina.
The essential task of all ESA tracking stations is to communicate with our missions wherever they go, uplinking commands and downlinking scientific data and spacecraft status information. Estrack stations also gather ‘radiometric’ data to help mission controllers know the location, trajectory and velocity of their spacecraft.
The deep-space stations can also conduct radio science experiments.
This year, Estrack celebrates its 40th anniversary, marking four decades since the 1975 decision to start providing tracking services for ESA missions using an antenna located at Villafranca, Spain.