In 2021, an Argentine instrument for astronomical use, developed by CONAE and IAR, will be put into operation in the modern station for deep space exploration installed in the province of Mendoza by agreement through CONAE with the European Space Agency.
Inaugurated on December 18, 2012, the Deep Space 3 Station located in Malargüe, Mendoza province, is part of the network of stations for monitoring deep space exploration missions of the European Space Agency (ESA) , together with the located in Australia and Spain. The DS3 Malargüe Station was built in our country based on an agreement between Argentina, through the National Commission for Space Activities (CONAE), and the European Space Agency .
This modern 35-meter diameter antenna supports deep space exploration missions, such as Gaia, Mars Express and ExoMars , that travel more than 300,000 kilometers from Earth. In February 2020 it added the monitoring of the Solar Orbiter mission, developed by ESA in collaboration with NASA, whose objective is to study the sun and which has already managed to obtain the closest images to our star recorded to date .
As part of the agreement with ESA, Argentina has 10% of the antenna’s operating time for use by CONAE and the projects it promotes in cooperation with national and international partners dedicated to the development of scientific research projects . In order to make effective use of the time available, in 2019 CONAE opened a call for an opportunity for research addressed to the national scientific community . Seven projects covering the entire time available were presented, in which the Argentine Radio Astronomy Institute (IAR) and other institutions of the country’s astronomical community participate, to begin work in the coming months.
Marcelo Colazo , CONAE’s expert and head of ultraterrestrial studies, announced that by 2021 the national space agency, in collaboration with the IAR, plans to complete the manufacturing and put into operation an Argentine instrument for scientific use at the DS3 station in Malargüe . Another instrument with identical characteristics will be installed in the CLTC-CONAE-NEUQUÉN Station, which operates within the framework of inter-institutional agreements between China Satellite Launch and Tracking Control General (CLTC) and CONAE, the province of Neuquén and the governments of Argentina and of the People’s Republic of China.
“As the DS3 Malargüe station is oriented towards telecommunications, for some years we have been proposing, between CONAE and IAR, the development of specialized equipment for astronomical use . Two pieces of equipment will be manufactured to make the most of the antenna’s capacity and to generate data in standard astronomical formats, which are those required by professionals ” , he stated.
Colazo highlighted the experiment with 3 DS Malargüe station on 14 December from Mendoza during the solar eclipse, when the expert observations led CONAE active areas of the Sun . “This type of experiment is used to study the emission of electromagnetic radiation in radio waves that are generated on active regions of the Sun , produced by electrons rotating in the magnetic field of the corona. We can take advantage of the moment when the Moon is covering the active zones to obtain more detailed information ” , he explained. Previously, CONAE also used the station as an emitter of radiation pulses to the Moon and they studied the rebounds received with telescopes in Russia .