Crib Point Satellite Earth Station: celebrating 20 years of service
30 November 2012
Crib Point Satellite Earth Station is the only dedicated weather-related Satellite Earth Station (SES) in Australia, forming a critical part of the Bureau's operations. Located at the HMAS Cerberus Naval Training Base on Westernport Bay in Victoria, the station is now celebrating 20 years of distinguished service.
Essential weather information
The station houses sophisticated communications equipment for receiving satellite data and has extended Australia's access to satellite images over the Indian Ocean.
It provides essential information for forecasting and climate services, for Australian industries such as defence, aviation and shipping, as well as emergency services.
Crib Point exemplifies 20 years of international cooperation between the Bureau, the China Meteorological Administration and Japan Meteorological Agency. Jointly, we have contributed to the World Weather Watch program of the World Meteorological Organization.
The station currently receives data for:
- Japan's Multi-functional Transport Satellites (MTSAT) geostationary series
- China's FengYun-2 geostationary satellite series
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) polar-orbiting satellites
- NASA's AQUA, TERRA and Suomi NPP satellites.
Important part of the satellite infrastructure
The station at Crib Point is an important part of the meteorological satellite infrastructure, which includes:
- Geostationary satellites: located over the equator, providing hourly satellite coverage of the Australian region
- Polar-orbiting satellites: providing higher resolution coverage of the Australian region every six hours
- NOAA polar-orbiting satellites: carrying many instruments for imaging and 'sounding' the atmosphere as well as telemetry for Data Collection Platform (DCP) operations. These instruments play an important role in:
- monitoring the atmosphere for severe weather events such as severe thunderstorms and tropical cyclones
- monitoring for search and rescue beacons, capsized vessels or planes lost at sea
- tracking and locating herds of migratory animals and birds
- fighting international piracy through tracking transmitters previously housed in 20 and 40 ft containers.
Built in 1991
Crib Point Satellite Earth Station was built in 1991 to host a Chinese Turn Around Ranging Station (C-TARS) to track and maintain the position of China's first geostationary meteorological satellite, Feng Yun 2. It 'turns around', or receives and retransmits signals sent via the Feng Yun satellite from the Central Control Station in China.
In 1994, the service was upgraded for Japan's GMS-4 and GMS-5 satellites (J-TARS).
Since then, Crib Point Satellite Earth Station has been providing a range of services outlined above.
Origins of Australia's role
Australia's role began just before the Japan Meteorological Agency's launch of GMS-1 (Himawari) in 1977. This was the first geostationary meteorological satellite that covered the Asia-Pacific area, including Australia. It brought a quantum leap in meteorological analysis and forecasting, providing the Bureau with satellite data every three hours. Before this, we received non-corrected satellite data every 12 hours from the polar-orbiting satellites.
Our first Turn Around Ranging Station (known as TARS 1) was set up at the request of the Japanese Government. It ensured their GMS satellite could be located accurately above the earth's surface at all times. In 1985, the Australian and Japanese governments signed an agreement on the operation of Japan's current and future geostationary meteorological satellites. We received satellite data from their GMS satellites, and operated the TARS 2 in return.