Frequently Asked Questions

We are often asked some very similar questions on our role in space exploration and a few 'old chestnut' questions that are raised by urban myth and pop culture.

We thought we'd answer a few of our favourites here...

Q: Do you play cricket on the dish?

No. This is a great scene in the movie 'The Dish' but it just doesn't happen in real life. The dish surfaces have to be a very accurate parabolic shape and any dents from cricket balls or walking on it would reduce the quality of signals we receive from spacecraft.

When the antennas are at stow (pointing straight up), the antennas are either offline for maintenance, when staff are busy doing preventative checks or upgrades or the antenna has finished communicating with one spacecraft and is getting ready to communicate with another. This is the only time when people can be on the dish surface and they have to stick to certain paths to avoid causing surface damage.

An interesting side note is that in the early days of the tracking station, the current site of of the big dish was the location of the staff's original cricket pitch at Tidbinbilla, an alternative site has since been found.

Q: Why are you in a valley and not on a hill?

We are located in a valley to avoid the interference of "human made noise" that can affect the data we received back spacecraft, as the data has travelled a long way.

Q: Is the Parkes dish bigger?

No, the dish at Parkes is 64-metres in diameter, while our DSS43 antenna is 70-metres in diameter. DSS43 was originally built as a 64-metre antenna, but was upgraded in the late 1980s as a 70-metre for Voyager 2's encounters with Uranus (1986) and Neptune (1989).

Q: Which dish got the first pictures from the Moon?

Deep Space Station 46 (DSS46), the antenna located closest to the public carpark at the front of the Complex, brought back the first images of Neil Armstrong stepping onto the Moon on 21 July 1969. When the antenna received these images, it was located at the Honeysuckle Tracking Station, in the south of Canberra. That Tracking Station was closed in 1981 and its dish relocated to the Tidbinbilla station to support deep space missions. DSS46 was retired from service and the end of 2009. It remains here as a permanent monument to those missions of the past and to the hundreds of men and women who worked on them.

Q: How many people work here?

About 90 staff are employed at the Complex. About 25 are shift teams who staff the Complex 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The rest work across the Complex and include work fields such as technicians, engineers, electricians, administration, facilities maintenance, logisticians, ground maintenance, cooks, cleaners and public affairs.

Q: Who pays for it all?

The Complex is a funded entirely from NASA's space exploration budget.

Q: What do the dishes do?

The antennas or 'dishes' provide two-way radio contact with dozens of robotic spacecraft exploring the Solar System and beyond. When not sending commands to these probes or receiving the data and images they collect, our antennas are busy either being checked, having maintenance performed on them and testing new tracking techniques.

In our spare time, as part of the international agreement between Australia and the United States, we get to use the antenna for radio astronomy science and will often link our big dish to other dishes across Australia, notably Parkes and Narrabri, to create one giant antenna that can provide incredible detail of distant stars, galaxies and black holes.

Q: How many dishes are there?

There are four operational antennas on site - Deep Space Station 43 (70-metres in diameter), Deep Space Station 34, 35 and 45 (each 34m in diameter). The other dishes are inactive and have been decommissioned. The Complex is currently building another 34 metre diameter beam wave guide antennas, similar to DSS34 and DSS35 which will come into operation in 2016.

Q: What roles does CSIRO play?

CSIRO is responsible for the management and operations of the Complex on behalf of NASA.

Q: Do you have a military role?

No. Our role is only to communicate with unmanned, robotic interplanetary missions in deep space that have a scientific job to do.

Q: Do you communicate with Space Shuttle or Space Station?

No, Space Shuttle (now retired) and the International Space Station have their own communication systems relaying through orbiting satellites directly to mission control.


CSIRO Privacy Statement
Personal information collected by CSIRO Australia is treated as confidential and is protected by the Privacy Act 1988. Personal information is information relating to an individual whose identity is apparent, or can reasonably be ascertained, from the information or opinion provided.

Site Visit Data
This site is operated by CSIRO without the use of an external service provider. When visiting this site, a record of your visit is logged. The following information is recorded for statistical purposes and is used by CSIRO to help improve the site. The following information is supplied by your browser:
• the user's server address
• the user's operating system (for example Windows, Mac etc)
• the user's top level domain name (for example .com, .gov, .au, .uk etc)
• the date and time of the visit to the site
• the pages accessed and the documents downloaded
• the previous site visited
• the type of browser used.
No attempt will be made to identify users or their browsing activities except in the unlikely event of an investigation, where a law enforcement agency may exercise a warrant to inspect the Internet Service Provider's logs.

Collection of Personal Information
When you e-mail us:
• we will record your e-mail address
• we will only use your e-mail address for the purpose for which you provided it
• it will not be added to a mailing list
• we will not use your e-mail address for any other purpose
• we will not disclose it without your consent except where CSIRO may be required by law to disclose certain information.
Should you decide to use an online form, such as one used by CSIRO Enquiries:
• we will record your name, e-mail address, street address, telephone number, occupation, company, area of interest and other personal information provided
• we will only use this information for the purpose for which you provided it
• the information will not be added to a mailing list
• we will not disclose this information without your consent except where CSIRO may be required by law to disclose certain information.
We will, at your request, provide you with access to any information which we have collected about you through this website in accordance with Information Privacy Principle 6, Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). To gain access to this information you should contact us (see details below). If you believe that any information is inaccurate, incomplete or out of date, please contact us and we will revise the relevant information in accordance with Information Privacy Principle 7, Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).

A cookie is a text string that is included with Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) requests and responses. Cookies are used to maintain state information as you navigate different pages on a web site or return to the web site at a later time. Cookies cannot be used to execute code (run programs) or deliver viruses to your computer.

Persistent vs. Session Cookies
Cookies are either stored in memory (session cookies) or placed on your hard disk (persistent cookies). does not use persistent cookies.

How to Access Cookies Settings in your Browser
You have the ability to enable or disable cookies, or have Internet Explorer or Netscape prompt you before accepting cookies. Note that disabling cookies may prevent some web services from working correctly, and disabling cookies does not make you anonymous or prevent web sites from tracking your browsing habits. HTTP requests still include information about where you came from (HTTP Referer), your IP address, browser version, operating system, and other information (see Site Visit Data above).

Internet Explorer
1. In Internet Explorer, click Internet Options on the Tools menu, and then click the Security tab.
2. Click the Web content zone you want, and then click Custom Level.
3. Under Cookies , click the options you want, click OK , and then click OK.

1. From the Edit menu, choose Preferences.
2. Click the Advanced category.
3. Click one of the radio buttons in the Cookies section.
Important: In most cases, "Accept all cookies" is the best choice. The second button means that your computer will not send a cookie to a server that did not originate it.
4. If you want to be notified when Communicator accepts a cookie, check "Warn me before accepting a cookie."

Security of Information
Your personal information will not be released unless the law requires or permits it or your permission is given. We provide a secure environment and a reliable system but you should be aware that there may be inherent risks associated with the transmission of information via the Internet. For those who do not wish to use the Internet, CSIRO provides alternative ways of obtaining and providing information.

Who to contact
The CSIRO contact on privacy matter is:
Ms Rosemary Caldwell
FOI, Privacy Coordinator
Phone: 61 2 6276 6123
Fax: 61 2 6276 6437
CSIRO Corporate Centre
Limestone Avenue
Campbell ACT 2612
PO Box 225
Dickson ACT 2602

NASA Privacy Policy
This notice provides NASA's policy regarding the nature, purpose, use and sharing of any information collected via this Web site. The information you provide on a NASA Web site will be used only for its intended purpose. We will protect your information consistent with the principles of the Privacy Act, the e-Government act of 2002, the Federal Records Act, and as applicable, the Freedom of Information Act.

Submitting information is strictly voluntary. By doing so, you are giving NASA your permission to use the information for the intended purpose. If you do not want to give NASA permission to use your information, simply do not provide it. However, not providing certain information may result in NASA's inability to provide you with the information or services you desire.

There are several types of information we collect. These include:

• Automatically Collected Information
• Information Collected for Tracking and Customization (Cookies)
• Personal Information
• Information from Children

NASA will only share your information with another government agency if it relates to that agency, or as otherwise required by law. We may share information with private organizations as part of a service that provides users with increased capabilities or functionality on the site. NASA never creates individual profiles.

Automatically Collected Information
We collect and temporarily store certain technical information about your visit for use in site management and security purposes.

This information includes: The Internet domain from which you access our Web site (for example, "" if you use a private Internet access account, or "" if you connect from an educational domain);
The IP address (a unique number for each computer connected to the Internet) from which you access our Web site; The type of browser (e.g., Netscape, Internet Explorer) used to access our site; The operating system (Windows, Unix) used to access our site;
The date and time you access our site;
The URLs of the pages you visit; Your username, if it was used to log in to the Web site; and If you visited this NASA Web site from another Web site, the URL of the forwarding site.

This information is only used to help us make our site more useful for you. With this data we learn about the number of visitors to our site and the types of technology our visitors use.

Except for authorized law enforcement investigations, no attempts are made to identify individual users or their usage habits. Raw data logs are retained temporarily as required for security and site management purposes only.

Information Collected for Tracking and Customization (Cookies)
A cookie is a small file that a Web site transfers to your computer to allow it to remember specific information about your session while you are connected. Your computer will only share the information in the cookie with the Web site that provided it, and no other Web site can request it. There are two types of cookies, session and persistent. Session cookies last only as long as your Web browser is open. Once you close your browser, the cookie disappears. Persistent cookies store information on your computer for longer periods of time.

NASA Web sites may use session cookies for technical purposes such as to enable better navigation through the site, or to allow you to customize your preferences for interacting with the site. A few NASA Web sites may also make use of persistent cookies to remember you between visits so, for example, you can save your customized preference settings for future visits. Each NASA site using persistent cookies identifies itself as doing so. If you do not wish to have session or persistent cookies stored on your machine, you can turn them off in your browser. However, this may affect the functioning of some NASA Web sites.

Providing Information to Third Parties
NASA may share information with private organizations as part of a service that provides NASA users with increased capabilities or functionality on the site. On, the "Share" function at the top of each page is provided by a third party, AddThis. This firm collects information on visitors who use this feature to share NASA content on their Facebook pages, Twitter feeds or other social media or social networking sites. As noted in their privacy policy AddThis uses this information for its own business purposes, including marketing the information to other parties.

AddThis does not collect information from users who do not use the feature.

Personal Information
If you choose to provide us with personal information, through such methods as completing a form or sending us an email, we will use that information to respond to your message and to help us get you the information or services you have requested.

Remember that email isn't necessarily secure. You should never send sensitive or personal information like your Social Security number in an email. Use postal mail or secure Web sites instead.

Some of our Web sites ask visitors who request specific information to fill out a registration form. For example, vendors looking for marketing opportunities by visiting our NASA Acquisition Internet Service site may be asked to register to obtain email notices of business opportunities. Other information collected at Web sites through questionnaires, feedback forms, or other means, enables us to determine visitors' interests, with the goal of providing better service to our customers.

Interaction with Children
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) governs information gathering online from or about children under the age of 13. Verifiable consent from a child's parent or guardian is required before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from a child under the age of 13.

We collect no information about you or your child, other than that detailed in the previous section, when you visit our web site unless you choose to provide information to us. When a NASA Web site needs to collect information about a child under 13 years old, COPPA required information and instructions will be provided by the specific Web page that collects information about the child. The Web page will specify exactly what the information will be used for, who will see it, and how long it will be kept.

There are several exceptions that permit collection of a child's email address without receiving parental consent in advance:

To provide the parents with notice and to seek consent for communications with the child. Note: this may require collection of the parent's email address as well.
To respond to a one time request from a child.
To respond more than once to a child's request; i.e., subscription to a newsletter. However, parental consent is required prior to the second communication.
To protect the safety of a child who is participating on the site; i.e., in a chat room.
To protect the site or to respond to law enforcement; i.e., in the case of a Web site compromise.
Personal information about children under 13 years of age may be needed to respond to his/her communication to us, such as to receive a poster or to acquire information for a school project. Personal information about your child will be destroyed immediately upon completion of its intended purpose. On rare occasions, it may be determined that a communication from a child under 13 years old should be maintained for historical purposes. Should such an occasion occur, NASA will obtain the necessary consent from the child's parent.

Finally, we provide many on-line tools and services in support of NASA's mission. A child under 13 years old may inadvertently provide personal information to one of these services. If this should happen, the information about the child will be deleted immediately upon discovery.

Web Site Security Notice
For site security purposes and to ensure that this Web service remains available to all users, this Government computer system employs software programs that monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information,. Anyone using this system expressly consents to such monitoring and is advised that if such monitoring reveals evidence of possible abuse or criminal activity, such evidence may be provided to appropriate law enforcement officials.

Unauthorized attempts to upload or change information on NASA servers are strictly prohibited and may be punishable by law, including under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 and the National Information Infrastructure Protection Act of 1996.

Accessibility Statement
We continually strive to ensure the pages on this Web site are accessible to individuals with disabilities in accordance with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. If you have any difficulty viewing any page with adaptive technology, please contact the webmaster for this site, or the Center Section 508 Coordinator.

Documents on NASA Web sites are presented in many formats. These formats are generally accessible to users using screen reading software. Some files on this Web site may be posted as Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF) files. Adobe provides their Acrobat Reader software as a free download.

Linking Policy and Disclaimer of Endorsement
NASA links to many Web sites created and maintained by other public and/or private organizations. NASA provides links to these sites as a service to our users. The presence of a link is not a NASA endorsement of the site.

When users follow a link to an outside Web site, they are leaving NASA and are subject to the privacy and security policies of the owners/sponsors of the outside Web site(s). NASA is not responsible for the information collection practices of non-NASA sites.

Webmaster: Glen Nagle
Public Relations Office: Glen Nagle / Korinne McDonnell