December 15, 2012
From The Pampas to the Stars
ESA’s new tracking station in Malargüe, Argentina, will be formally inaugurated on 18 December 2012 and enter service early in 2013. The massive, 35 m-diameter antenna enables receipt of precious scientific data from current and future missions voyaging hundreds of millions of miles into our Solar System.
Inauguration of Malargüe also marks the completion of the Agency’s trio of deep-space antenna (DSA) stations as part of the ESTRACK network and confirms ESA as one of the world’s most technologically advanced space organisations.
The station is located in Malargüe, Argentina, 1200 km west of Buenos Aires. Joining DSA 1, New Norcia, Australia, and DSA 2, Cebreros, Spain, DSA 3 Malargüe provides the final leg in ESA’s 360° circumferential coverage for deep-space probes including, today, Mars Express, Venus Express, Rosetta, Herschel and Planck, and, in the future, Gaia, BepiColombo, ExoMars, Solar Orbiter and Juice.
The foreboding beauty of the landscape near Malargüe, 1500m high in clear mountain air, is also famous for the 1972 Andes flight disaster, dramatized in the 1993 film “Alive: The Miracle of the Andes.” The actual crash site in the mountains is approximately 138.4 km, as the crow flies, from ESA’s station.