Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

Located at Tidbinbilla, just outside Australia's capital city, the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) is one of three Deep Space Network stations around the world. The Complex's sister stations are located at Goldstone in California, and near Madrid in Spain. Together, the three stations provide around-the-clock contact with more than 40 spacecraft, including missions to study Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Pluto, comets, the Moon and the Sun.

The Complex is currently supporting missions, including: Cassini spacecraft at Saturn; Mars missions - including the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers; Messenger spacecraft currently orbiting Mercury; New Horizons spacecraft travelling to Pluto; and Voyager 1 and 2, which have been in space for over 37 years. From time to time the Complex also supports the missions of other space organisations.

Expertise and capability

Space sector capabilities

There are currently four antennas operating at the Canberra station: one 70 metre and three 34 metre radio dishes that receive data from, and transmit commands to, spacecraft on deep space missions. One further 34 metre antenna is under construction.

The Complex is also involved in radio astronomy research. NASA makes available approximately five per cent of time on the 70 metre antenna for research programs, which includes detection of objects such as black holes and pulsars, radio-frequency cataloguing, and linking with other telescopes for high-resolution imaging using a technique called very long baseline interferometry.

Unique selling points

The Complex is a NASA facility managed by CSIRO on behalf of the Australian Government; it operates through a government-to-government, treaty-level agreement. The CDSCC is part of NASA's Deep Space Network (DSN). The DSN is an international network of antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions and radio and radar astronomy observations for the exploration of the solar system and the universe.