Linking spacecraft with people at the frontiers of human knowledge: ESA’s Estrack ground station network communicates each day over hundreds of millions of kilometres with deep-space missions, or with Earth observation missions just a few hundred kilometres up. The network returns precious scientific data to scientists on Earth and transmits commands from satellite controllers, all via remote control from ESOC, ESA’s European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany.
With nine stations in seven countries, Estrack also includes ESA’s trio of deep-space antenna (DSA) stations – massive, 35 m-diameter dish stations that provide global coverage and seamlessly interconnect with networks operated by NASA and other space agencies.
Estrack stations also gather radiometric data to help mission controllers know the location, trajectory and speed of their spacecraft. On a typical day, the stations are tasked to search for and acquire new spacecraft, provide auto-track coverage of current missions, provide frequency and timing control using atomic clocks, and gather atmospheric and weather data.
Some stations are also equipped with GPS receivers connected to our GPS Tracking and Data Analysis Facility at ESOC, enabling highly precise orbit and geophysical calculations.