ESA's first 35-metre deep-space ground station
New Norcia: ESA's first 35m deep-space station

New Norcia - DSA 1

The New Norcia station, DSA 1 (Deep Space Antenna 1), hosts a 35-metre deep-space antenna with transmission and reception in both S- and X-band and is located 140 kilometres north of Perth, Western Australia, close to the town of New Norcia. DSA-1 is designed for deep-space satellite missions and provides daily support to Mars Express, Rosetta and Venus Express for routine operations.

Location

The coordinates of the 35-metre antenna are -31° 2' 53.61", +116° 11' 29.40". The antenna is sited at 252.26 metres with respect to the WGS-84 reference ellipsoid, a mathematically- defined reference surface that approximates the Earth's geoid surface.

The station is located about 8 kilometres south of New Norcia, which is about 150 kilometres north of Perth.

Facilities & technology

The technical facilities at New Norcia comprise S- and X-band uplink and downlink equipment, a ranging system, a frequency and timing system, a monitoring and control system and a communications system. The site is equipped with a no-break power plant.

Control room in DSA 1
DSA 1 control room

The antenna radio frequency system is composed of a beam-wave guide system with a frequency-sensitive (dichroic) mirror and S- and X-band feeds, cryogenically cooled S- and X-band low-noise amplifiers and 2- and 20-kilowatt S- and X-band transmitters.

There are plans to upgrade the station for data reception in the Ka-band (32 GHz), which will become the future international standard for deep-space missions.

Operations

DSA-1 at New Norcia provides routine operations support to ESA's ongoing deep-space missions Mars Express, Rosetta and Venus Express, as well as to other missions including Ulysses, Cluster II and SOHO. DSA-1 also supports Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP), and provides support to missions operated by other agencies under resource-sharing agreements.

First signals received!
Spectrum analyser display indicating first signals received from Stardust at DSA 1

The antenna and terminal infrastructure were newly completed in 2002 with successful pointing tests conducted with NASA's Stardust mission, and the station entered service as ESA's first deep-space station in March 2003.

The mechanical movable structure weighs 580 tonnes. Engineers can point it with a speed of 0.4 degrees per second in both axes (horizontal and vertical). Its Servo Control System provides the highest possible pointing accuracy under the site's environmental, wind and temperature conditions.

The New Norcia antenna is one of the largest in the world for telemetry, tracking and command (TT&C) applications. It is essential for high-performance communications with spacecraft far out in space and missions in highly elliptical orbits which take them far from Earth.

ESA`s new antenna at New Norcia, Western Australia
DSA 1 under construction 2002

ESA's Mars Express, Venus Express and Rosetta scientific missions fall squarely into that category. The antenna allows scientific data being collected by Rosetta, for example, to be reliably received on Earth when the spacecraft is up to 900 million kms away – more than six times the distance from the Earth to the Sun!

In the future, the station will also be available to communicate with BepiColombo, ESA's mission to Mercury.

The station's location was carefully chosen to provide the necessary satellite visibility, the required radio-frequency clearance for data transmission and reception, the best-available weather conditions, which influence station performance (rain attenuation, wind speed), and to satisfy the need for cost-efficient operation and maintenance.

The station is remotely controlled from ESOC and operated by Inmarsat Solutions B.V., who provide on-site maintenance and additional manned support when necessary.

Delta DOR, GPS-TDAF, radio science

The station is also equipped with Delta DOR (Delta Differential One-Way Ranging), a new technology enabling highly precise spacecraft location and tracking.

A GPS-TDAF (GPS Tracking and Data Analysis Facility) dual-frequency receiver system with geodetic accuracy is installed on the site, which delivers continuous measurements to the ESOC Navigation Facility.

The station also hosts facilities enabling scientists to analyse received signals to perform radio science experiments.

Access & contact

The ESOC point of contact is:
Head of Ground Facilities Operations Div.
ESOC, Darmstadt
Tel: +49-6151-900

The local point of contact is:
Tel: +61-8-9302-0400

The postal address of the station is:
Inmarsat Solutions B.V.
Perth International Telecommunications Centre
P.O. Box 1115
Wangara
W.A. 6065
Australia

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