UMSF Visitor(s)

One of the nice things about working at the Canberra DSN is that I get the chance to show off the Complex to people who really have an interest in the role of the Deep Space Network.

High on the list of ‘interested people’ are members of the online forum –

While a lot of UMSF’ers only ever chat online, we do occasionally get to meet.


March 14, 2010 – His online name is Airbag and normally he’s contributing to UMSF from his home in New York state, but today he was in Australia and visiting me at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex. 

Travelling with his wife and staying with friends in Canberra, they all came along to get a behind-the-scenes look at the station.

Walking the grounds and getting a close-up look at the giant antennas, Airbag and friends I think were fairly impressed with what they saw. While we were standing under the 70-metre dish Deep Space Station 43 (DSS43) it was busy receiving data from the Voyager 2 spacecraft which was a mere 13.6 billions kms away!

Trekking up to the far end of the Complex, we looked across the valley from my favourite ‘Kodak moment’ spot on the site where Airbag took a series of photos which I hope he will work up into a nice panorama/mosaic and hopefully post it online somewhere.

We then got a chance to look at the main control room from its windowed viewing gallery before heading back to the Visitor Centre exhibition area for a quick break and bite to eat, though not before spending 30 mins chatting about the Mars Exploration Rovers while standing in front of the full-scale replica we have on display.

Last stop on the tour was a close up look at our 26-metre, DSS46. This antenna is most famous for being the original antenna which stood at the Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station, where, on July 21 1969 it received and relayed to the world the first TV images of Neil Armstrong stepping onto the surface of the Moon.

A final photo stop in front of DSS43, ended a really great visit from Airbag and friends. Hopefully we can catch up again one day. At least now when we chat online, we’ll have a face to add to our names and avatars on UMSF.


hugh 087Today, HughfromAlice came to Canberra with a few friends for a look at the Canberra DSN.

It was probably the worst weather that we could have had – windy, cold, raining, almost sleeting at times but I think that we had a great tour all the same.

The occasional sunny break allowed us to get from one antenna to the next and we huddled in the lee of buildings and trees until the latest shower passed. Fortunately we were all pretty well rugged up and once we got back the Visitor Centre were able to thaw out any exposed surfaces like faces and hands.

Check out a few more photos…

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HughfromAlice with the Rover model. Hugh and friends at the Canberra DSN.

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In front of DSS46 (the original Moon dish) and near DSS34.

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Astro0 and Hugh. Hugh’s friends with DSS46.

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Look how tiny everyone looks next to DSS43 – the 70-metre antenna.


One Response to “UMSF Visitor(s)”

  1. …And of course we had a brilliant time!! Being right next to DSS43 as its 4000 tons swiveled East noislelessly on a layer of 0.7mm of oil and lowered from facing straight up to one side just a few feet above the ground as it pointed to a just rising Saturn to beam data 1.3 billion kms across the solar system to Cassini was awe inspiring.

    Thanks Glen!!

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