Terrestrial Terminal Stations AKA Earth Stations
What is an Earth Station?
An earth station, ground station, or earth terminal is a terrestrial terminal station designed for extra-planetary telecommunication with spacecraft, and/or reception of radio waves from an astronomical radio source. Earth stations are located either on the surface of the Earth, or within Earth’s atmosphere. Earth stations communicate with spacecraft by transmitting and receiving radio waves in the super high frequency or extremely high frequency bands (microwaves). When an earth station successfully transmits or receives radio waves with a spacecraft it establishes a telecommunications link. Earth stations may occupy either a fixed or itinerant position. Article 1 and III of the ITU Radio Regulations describes various types of earth stations, stationary and mobile, and their interrelationships. Specialized satellite earth stations are used to tele-communicate with satellites—chiefly communications satellites. Other earth stations communicate with manned space stations or unmanned space probes. An earth station that primarily receives telemetry data, or that follows a satellite not in geostationary orbit, is called a tracking station. When a satellite is within an earth station’s line of sight, the earth station is said to have a view of the satellite. It is possible for a satellite to communicate with more than one earth station at a time. A pair of earth stations are said to have a satellite in mutual view when the stations share simultaneous, unobstructed, line-of-sight contact with the satellite.
What is a Telecommunications Port?
A telecommunications port or more commonly known as a teleport is a satellite earth station with multiple antennas (i.e., an antenna farm) that functions as a hub connecting a satellite or geocentric orbital network with a terrestrial telecommunications network. Teleports may provide various broadcasting services among other telecommunications functions, such as uploading computer programs or issuing commands over an uplink to a satellite.
What are Earth terminal Complexes?
In Federal Standard 1037C, the United States General Services Administration defined an earth terminal complex as the assemblage of equipment and facilities necessary to integrate an earth terminal (earth station) into a telecommunications network. FS-1037C has since been subsumed by the ATIS Telecom Glossary, which is maintained by the Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions, an international, business-oriented, non-governmental organization. Although the ATIS as well as the Telecommunications Industry Association acknowledge this definition, the occurrence of the word complex in the name of a radio observatory or other major earth station doesn’t necessarily connote all of the nuances of the FS-1037C definition—especially outside of the United States.
What are Satellite Communications Standards?
The ITU Radio Communication Sector (ITU-R), a division of the International Telecommunication Union, codifies international standards agreed-upon through multinational discourse. From 1927–1932, standards and regulations now governed by the ITU-R were administered by the Comité consultatif international pour la radio (International Consultancy Committee for Radio). In addition to the body of standards defined by the ITU-R, each major satellite operator provides technical requirements and standards that earth stations must meet in order to communicate with the operator’s satellites. For example, Intelsat publishes the Intelsat Earth Station Standards (IESS) which, among other things, classifies earth stations by the capabilities of their parabolic antennas, and pre-approves certain antenna models. Eutelsat publishes similar standards and requirements, such as the Eutelsat EarthStation Standards (EESS).
Earth Stations and Earth Terminal Complexes
Bukit Timah Satellite Earth Station
The Bukit Timah Satellite Earth Station (Chinese: 武吉知马卫星地面站; Malay: Stesen Satelit Bumi Bukit Timah) is the second satellite earth station in Singapore after Sentosa Satellite Earth Station in Sentosa Island. The station is located in Bukit Timah near Chantek flyover between Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE) and Pan Island Expressway (PIE). This station is managed and owned by SingTel with the building starting construction in 1983 and started operations in 1986. As it is located next to the BKE, motorists coming into Singapore via the causeway see this as their first landmark other than Woodlands.
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 half an hour’s drive out of 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 March 19, 1965 by the then Prime Minister of Australia Sir Robert
Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex
The Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex (GDSCC) — commonly called the Goldstone Observatory is located in California’s Mojave Desert (USA). Operated by ITT Corporation for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, its main purpose is to track and communicate with space missions. It includes the Pioneer Deep Space Station, which is a U.S. National Historic Landmark. The current observatory is part of NASA’s Deep Space Network. The Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex is one of just three in the world, the others being the Madrid Deep Space Communication Complex and the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex.
Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station
Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station is a large telecommunications site located on Goonhilly Downs near Helston on the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall, UK. Owned by BT Group plc, it was at one time the largest satellite earth station in the world, with more than 25 communications dishes in use and over 60 in total. The site also links into undersea cable lines. It ceased all satellite operations in 2008.
Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station
Honeysuckle Creek was a NASA tracking station near Canberra, Australia, which played an important role in supporting Project Apollo. The station was opened in 1967 and closed in 1981. Its most noted achievement was providing the world with the first pictures of the Apollo 11 Moonwalk on Monday, July 21, 1969. Apart from the television pictures they provided, Honeysuckle Creek and Tidbinbilla had voice and telemetry contact with the lunar and command modules. Much of this was dramatized in the 2000 Australian film The Dish. After the conclusion of the Apollo Moon missions in 1972, Honeysuckle Creek began supporting regular Skylab passes, the Apollo scientific stations left on the Moon by astronauts, and assisting the Deep Space Network with interplanetary tracking commitments. In 1974 at the conclusion of the Skylab program, Honeysuckle Creek joined the Deep Space Network as Deep Space Station 44. Honeysuckle Creek closed in December 1981, its 26 m antenna being relocated to the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex at nearby Tidbinbilla, and renamed Deep Space station 46, where it remained in use until late 2009. Today the original site has been leveled, and only the concrete foundations remain.
Kaena Point Satellite Tracking Station
The Kaena Point Satellite Tracking Station is a United States Air Force military installation in Kaena Point on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. It is a remote tracking station of the Air Force Satellite Control Network responsible for tracking satellites in orbit, many of which belong to the United States Department of Defense, receiving and processing data and in turn, controlling satellites by sending commands. The station originally opened in 1959 to support an early satellite program.
Madley Communications Centre
Madley Communications Centre is British Telecom’s earth satellite tracking station, between Madley and Kingstone, Herefordshire, England. It claims to be the largest earth station in the world.
Madrid Deep Space Communication Complex
The Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex (MDSCC) is a ground station located in Robledo de Chavela, Spain, and operated by Ingenieria y Servicios Aeroespaciales, S.A. (INSA) for Instituto Nacional de Técnica
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