MALARGUE, Argentina, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- The European Space Agency says its new tracking station, one of the world's most sophisticated for tracking satellites, is nearing completion in Argentina.
The station near the town of Malargue, 620 miles west of Buenos Aires, will join two existing stations in Spain and Australia to provide global coverage for the agency's deep-space missions, a release from ESA's Paris headquarters said Wednesday.
The station dubbed Deep Space Antenna 3 will send commands, receive data and perform radiometric measurements for a number of current and planned ESA missions including Mars Express, Venus Express, Herschel ExoMars and Solar Orbiter, the agency said.
The first test signals were received in June 2012 from Mars Express at a distance of about 120 million miles, proving the station's technology is ready to begin routine operations in early 2013, it said.
"Our initial in-service testing with the Malargue station shows excellent results," said Roberto Madde, ESA's DSA 3 project manager for construction.
"We have been able to quickly and accurately acquire signals from ESA and NASA spacecraft, and our station is performing better than specified."
The tracking station is equipped with a 115-foot-diameter dish antenna and sophisticated cryogenically cooled low-noise amplifiers to detect faint signals, the ESA release said.