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See mission in Mars from NASA's universal switchboard near Canberra



Published

May 19, 2018 06:00:10

From a quiet field beside grazing cows south of Canberra, NASA looks far into space.

The Deep Space Communication Complex at Paddys River Valley in Tidbinbilla is one of the three worldwide facilitating communications between NASA and spacecraft, satellites and astronauts.

The other two sites are in Spain and California.

NASA's InSight Mars mission is one of nearly 40 missions supported by the Canberra facility, which is operated by 90 CSIRO employees.

"Sometimes we describe ourselves as air traffic control for space," said Glen Nagle of the CSIRO.

NASA dispatched a robot geologist into space on May 5 to explore the interior of the red planet.

"The interior of Mars is a mystery", Mr. Nagle

"The inside of a planet is the engine of a world and it makes this world the way it is.

" It will be the first time that we have a mission to land a seismometer on another world.

"This instrument can measure vibrations as small as half the width of a hydrogen atom."

The spacecraft is due to meet Mars in November.

"The mission uses an Atlas V rocket, one of NASA's strongest boosters, to give it a good kick at this time to get to Mars," said Mr. Nagle.

"NASA wants to be able to detect this when there is an impact on the other side of the planet, for example, they will be able to detect the vibrations that pass through the planet.

" We do not know whether Mars has a molten coro or not; We want to know what is going on in the mantle structure.

"We really try to understand everything we can know about the interior of the planet."

A Tourist Attraction to See

Visitors to the Deep Space Communication Complex have described the site as one of Canberra's best kept secrets.

"We are basically the switchboard for the universe," said Mr. Nagle.

There are four operating courts and two other retired courts on the premises.

"We have the 70 meter deep station and three 34 meter diameter antennas."

The network coordinated and controlled hundreds of manned and unmanned operations into space, including the first fly – from Neptune in the 1980s and the Curiosity Mars Rover mission in 2012.

"It was also our court here in Canberra, who brought the first flickering images of Neil Armstrong on the ladder and on the surface of the moon, "Mr. Nagle said.

"Our 26-meter antenna was on Honeysuckle Creek on July 21, 1969, to capture these first images."

Mr. Nagle said that new missions take off all the time.

"Missions that study the sun, missions that visit planets, moons, asteroids, comets, and a handful of space telescopes that are hundreds of millions of miles away," he said.

"All these missions represent 27 countries around the world exploring space." 19659005] "We are not just supporting NASA, they are missions for Russia, India, Japan, and all countries of the European Space Agency

" And they rely on us to facilitate this communication. "

Topics:

Science and technology,

Astronomy space

Spacecraft,

Space Exploration

Research,

Research organizations,

human interest,

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