Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

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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
Organization CSIRO / NASA / JPL
Location Tidbinbilla,
Australian Capital Territory
Coordinates 35°24′05″S 148°58′54″E / 35.40139°S 148.98167°E / -35.40139; 148.98167Coordinates: 35°24′05″S 148°58′54″E / 35.40139°S 148.98167°E / -35.40139; 148.98167
Altitude 550 m
Established 19 March 1965
70m telescope at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex

The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) is a ground station that is located in Australia at Tidbinbilla in the Paddys River (a tributory 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 the 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). Previous to this CDSCC had been managed by external sub-contractor organisations, such as Raytheon Australia from 2003-2010; BAE Systems (formally British Aerospace Australia) 1990-2003; AWA Electronic Services -1990.


Tidbinbilla Locality Map, the site is marked with the red star.

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


As of late 2014 the Station has four large antennas in use: DSS-34, DSS-35, 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. There is ongoing construction to build an additional 34 m beam waveguide antenna by 2017. Construction of DSS-35 began in July 2010.[1] 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.[2]
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 Under construction 34m Dish installed in August 2015, and expected to be operational in 2016.[3]
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. 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 Active 34m Built in 1986.
Deep Space Station 46, 1.JPG DSS-44
Decommissioned 26m Originally built as DSS-44 in 1967 and located at Honeysuckle Creek, it was moved in 1984 and reassigned DSS-46. It was decommissioned in late 2009. In May 2010 the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics declared the antenna a Historical Aerospace Site.[4]
CSIRO ScienceImage 8220 The Radio Telescope at Parkes.jpg DSS-49 Active 64m Parkes radio telescope Capable of linking in to provide support, however is incapable of transmitting (this is a receiver only).


CDSCC costs about A$20 million per year to run, and is funded by NASA.[5][6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Antenna Construction - page 8" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  2. ^ "Antennas". Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Retrieved 20 August 2015. 
  3. ^ "Deep Space Station 36: Huge NASA dish lifted into place outside Canberra after delays". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 20 August 2015. Retrieved 20 August 2015. 
  4. ^ "AustraliaHistoricalSite" (PDF). American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  5. ^ "Over fifty years of space collaboration between Australia and the United States". Department of Industry, Australian Government. 26 February 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  6. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 

External links[edit]