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Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex
CSIRO ScienceImage 11042 Aerial view of the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex.jpg
The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex in 2010
OrganizationCSIRO / NASA / JPL
LocationTidbinbilla, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Coordinates35°24′05″S 148°58′54″E / 35.40139°S 148.98167°E / -35.40139; 148.98167
Altitude550 m
Established19 March 1965
TelescopesDSS 35
DSS 36
DSS 43
DSS 46 Edit this on Wikidata
Location of Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex
Related media on Wikimedia Commons
70m DSS-43 telescope at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex
70m DSS-43 telescope at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) is a satellite communication station, part of the Deep Space Network of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), located at Tidbinbilla in the Australian Capital Territory. Opened in 1965, the complex was used for tracking the Apollo Lunar Module, and along with its two sister stations at Goldstone, California and Madrid, Spain is now used for tracking and communicating with NASA's spacecraft, particularly interplanetary missions. Its DSS-43 antenna is the only antenna on Earth that can send commands to Voyager 2. It is managed in Australia by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) for NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation program (SCaN) at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.[1]


The complex is located in the Paddys River (a tributary of the Cotter River) valley, about 20 km from Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory. The complex is part of the Deep Space Network run by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). It is commonly referred to as the Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Station and was officially opened on 19 March 1965 by then Prime Minister of Australia Sir Robert Menzies.

The station is separated from Canberra by the Murrumbidgee River and, more importantly, the Coolamon Ridge, Urambi Hills, and Bullen Range, which help shield the dishes from the city's radio frequency (RF) noise. Located nearby is the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.


The CSIRO manages most of NASA's activities in Australia.

In February 2010 CSIRO took over direct management of the site with the establishment of CASS (CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science).[citation needed] Previous to this CDSCC had been managed by external sub-contractor organisations, such as Raytheon Australia from 2003–2010; BAE Systems (formerly British Aerospace Australia) 1990–2003; AWA Electronic Services -1990.[citation needed]


Tidbinbilla Locality Map, the site is marked with the red star.
Tidbinbilla Locality Map, the site is marked with the red star.
The 70m DSS-43 dish at the CDSCC
The 70m DSS-43 dish at the CDSCC

During the mid 1960s NASA built three tracking stations in the Australian Capital Territory.


As of late 2016 the station has five large antennas, called Deep Space Stations (DSS), each identified by a number: DSS-34, DSS-35, DSS-36, DSS-43, and DSS-45. The CDSCC also uses the Parkes radio telescope in central New South Wales at busy times to receive data from spacecraft (then designated DSS-49). There has been ongoing construction since 2010 building additional 34 m beam waveguide antenna. Construction of DSS-35 began in July 2010.[2] The station's collimation tower is located approximately 3 km to the north-west, on Black Hill.

Photo Designation Status Main aperture Notes
DSS-33 Decommissioned 11m A small A/E antenna which was decommissioned for DSN use in 2002 and moved to Norway in 2009 to be used for atmospheric research.[3]
DSS-34 Active 34m Beam waveguide antenna, uses a system of radio frequency mirrors to place the receiving and transmitting hardware underground rather than on top of the dish. Built in 1997.
CSIRO ScienceImage 11482 An artists impression of one of the two new antennas to be constructed at the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex CDSCC.jpg
DSS-35 Active 34m Operational in late 2014 and officially opened in March 2015.
CSIRO ScienceImage 11482 An artists impression of one of the two new antennas to be constructed at the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex CDSCC.jpg
DSS-36 Active 34m Dish installed August 2015. Operational late 2016 and officially opened on 3 November 2016.[4]
DSS-42 Decommissioned 34m Decommissioned in 2000 and dismantled shortly after. This was an "hour angle declination" antenna and was the original antenna constructed at the complex.
Canberra Deep Dish Communications Complex - GPN-2000-000502.jpg
DSS-43 Active 70m Originally constructed as a 64 m dish in 1973 and enlarged in 1987. It is the largest steerable parabolic antenna in the Southern Hemisphere. It is used by NASA to communicate with Voyager 2; the only antenna remaining on Earth capable to do so.[5] The antenna weighs more than 3000 tonnes and rotates on a film of oil approximately 0.17mm thick. The reflector surface is made up of 1,272 aluminium panels with a total surface area of 4,180 square metres.
DSS-45 Decommissioned 34m Built in 1986. Decommissioned November 2016 soon after DSS-36 became fully operational.
Deep Space Station 46, 1.JPG
Decommissioned 26m Originally was constructed in 1967 for the Manned Spaceflight Network (MSFN) at Honeysuckle Creek near Canberra. It was one of three main ground stations for the Apollo program. While in the MSFN the station and its 26m dish had the designation HSK. In 1974 after the Apollo program had finished the station was transferred to JPL's Deep Space Network (DSN) and given the designation DSS-44. In 1984 the Honeysuckle complex was wound up, the antenna was dismantled and reassembled as DSS-46 at the CDSCC (Tidbinbilla) complex about 20 km away.

DSS-46 was decommissioned in late 2009. In May 2010 the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics declared the antenna a Historical Aerospace Site, and the antenna remains in place.[6]

CSIRO ScienceImage 8220 The Radio Telescope at Parkes.jpg
DSS-49 Active 64m Radio telescope at Parkes Observatory, capable of linking in to provide support, though it is a receiver only and is incapable of transmitting.


CDSCC costs about A$20 million per year to run, and is funded by NASA.[7][8]

See also


  1. ^ Latifiyan, Pouya (April 2021). "Space Telecommunications, how?". Take Off. Tehran: Civil Aviation Technology College. 1: 15 – via Persian.
  2. ^ "Antenna Construction - page 8" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
  3. ^ "Antennas". Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  4. ^ "Deep Space Station 36: Huge NASA dish lifted into place outside Canberra after delays". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 20 August 2015. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
  5. ^ "NASA Finally Makes Contact with Voyager 2 After Longest Radio Silence in 30 Years".
  6. ^ "AustraliaHistoricalSite" (PDF). American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 July 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
  7. ^ "Over fifty years of space collaboration between Australia and the United States". Department of Industry, Australian Government. 26 February 2015. Archived from the original on 30 July 2020. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  8. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex. Retrieved 24 July 2015.

External links

This page was last edited on 26 March 2022, at 20:27
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