The crew at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) will be working throughout Christmas and New Year. As they say “spacecraft never sleep, they don’t take public holidays or celebrate the festive season – so neither do our team”.
“We’re tracking 40 different spacecraft and you never know if that next track is going to lead to the next Nobel Prize-winning discovery, so it’s vital that we never switch off, even at Christmas,” said Facility Director Ed Kruzins.
“Essentially we’re part of one massive science program with sensors on every planet in the solar system looking at geology, geography, plasma physics and of course, the markers for life. This data is relayed through space back to ground at locations like CDSCC where we deconvolve it and send it back to NASA, who then use it to analyse readings, look for trends and eventually write science papers. So we’re one node in the chain, but a very critical one,” he said.
And it’s not just the endless pursuit of scientific discovery that drives the 24/7 manning of our facility. If we go offline, NASA’s whole deep space network suffers.
Here at Cosmos, we are also dedicated to science – but maybe not quite so much as the men and women at the CDSCC and we will be taking a break until 4 January.
We would like to take this opportunity to wish all our readers and subscribers our best wishes for happy and safe holidays and a prosperous New Year.
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.