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Sky Trackers (1994 - 1994)

Children's series
26 episodes x 30 minutes

Series synopsis:

Three kids live with their families at Kaputar Space Station, a massive space tracking station in outback Australia. Nikki Colbert (Petra Jared) is 13 and passionately loves science. Her ambition is to become an astronaut and to be the first person on Mars. Her little sister Maggie (Emily-Jane Romig) is nine and is an all-out performer. She wants to be the centre of attention and often gets in her big sister’s way. Their mother Marie Colbert (Anna-Maria Monticelli) is a senior CSIRO scientist at Kaputar.

Mike Masters (Zbych Trofimiuk) is 14 and he hates science. Jimi Hendrix is his hero. Mike has a very strained relationship with his widowed, workaholic father, Tony Masters (Steve Jacobs), a famous astro-physicist.

The children’s daily lives are intertwined with science and technology as they live their lives within the space station. They attend a small local school, but scholarships also bring other young students to Kaputar from all around the world to conduct space-related experiments. Their adventures follow deep space probes, the search for aliens, and solving environmental mysteries. Along the way they learn a lot about themselves and each other.

Curator’s Notes:

Sky Trackers is an enjoyable series with an interesting blend of stories about family and relationships, science, technology, deep space and the environment. The lead girl character, Nikki Colbert, is a science buff but is also very attractive and likeable, deliberately designed to encourage girls’ interest in science. Superbly played by Petra Jared, Nikki’s character is unfortunately not always presented in a consistent way. While she is seen almost invariably as a girl genius in her science work, there are a few script and direction lapses where she is suddenly depicted as a helpless girl which do not ring true to the character.

Great care was taken with the scripts to have the science as accurate as possible. Dr Karl Kruszelnicki was a science advisor for the series and the ACTF was also given expert advice and assistance from NASA in the USA and the US project SETI.

Sky Trackers also appealed to boys, with lots of action including rollerblading (on a satellite dish) and music, in particular Mike’s passion for Jimi Hendrix.

Sky Trackers shot the rollerblading on the satellite dish scene well before The Dish (2000) did their cricket scene, but it wasn’t without difficulties at the time. Filming was originally set to take place at Tidbinbilla, outside Canberra, operated by the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex – who baulked at the rollerblading scene (Episode 1) in the script. Although in most part this was not to be shot on the actual dish, they didn’t want it to be included at all, and so the entire shoot was moved to the CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility in Narrabri in northern New South Wales, where the rollerblading scene was felt to be OK.

Titles in this series

Sky Trackers – Is There Life On Earth? 1994

In this eighth episode of the series, Shane (Che Broadbent), a visiting student at the Wright Foundation, is doing a project on SETI using the radio telescope. Nikki (Petra Jared) is very interested in the project and volunteers to help. ...