As Rosetta counts down to a memorable comet landing and end of mission on 30 September, here’s a brief profile of the three ESA deep-space ground stations that are tracking the spacecraft in its final days. The mission is also being supported by NASA’s Deep Space Network (DSN) and in fact Rosetta will rely on support from the DSN 70 m-diameter dishes in its final days, complementing the support provided by the ESA stations.
Editor’s note: ESA’s three deep-space stations are part of the Agency’s Estrack ground station network, a global system of ground stations providing links between satellites in orbit and ESOC, the European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany. The core Estrack network comprises nine stations in seven countries. The essential task of all ESA ground tracking stations is to communicate with spacecraft, transmitting commands and receiving scientific data and spacecraft status information. More information via the Estrack web pages.
ESA Malargüe station, Argentina
Location: 30 km from Malargüe, Mendoza province, about 1200 km west of Buenos Aires
Dish size: 35m diameter
Moveable structure: 610 tonnes
Entered service: 2013
Routine tracking: Rosetta, Mars Express, ExoMars, Gaia, other solar system missions
The station conducted its first test tracking in ...