Mike and Nikki are both scientists’ children, living beneath the massive dishes of a space tracking station in the heart of the Australian outback.
Mike and Nikki are both scientists’ children, living beneath the massive dishes of a space tracking station in the heart of the Australian outback.
Nikki is 13 and into science - her dream is to be the first person on Mars. Mike is 14 and into rock music - he thinks science sucks. Mike’s horse and guitar are the only things that make his life at the station bearable - until he falls for Nikki, that is…
Lively action, strong emotions, lots of fun and the cutting-edge of science are all combined in an exciting series about children, their parents and the universe around them.
Sky Trackers (1990)
At an Australian research station, two siblings and their friend hack their way into the center’s computer files and learn that a satellite will fall to earth nearby – but the satellite is carrying a deadly cargo.
Episode 1 Skating the Dish
Mike Masters and his father, Tony, arrive at Kaputa after having been away for eight years. The dish is parked as it cools down to operating temperature and so Mike decides to put on his roller blades and skate the dish. Against Nikki's advice, Maggie joins Mike on the dish taking Polaroids. Unexpectedly, the dish begins to move, putting Maggie and Mike in danger. Nikki saves the situation. Tony discovers the Polaroids and dresses down his son. Mike doesn't care. "Science sucks". Nikki is furious with Mike.
Episode 2 Meteor Rights
Visiting Wright Foundation student, Susan Cooper, arrives to study a meteor shower. They photograph the shower at night and track one meteorite that has hit the Earth. Another student, Bruce, and his gang decide to find the meteorite as well, planning to sell it for money. The meteorite is eventually found in the middle of Mullins, a scrap metal yard, and a chase ensues between our kids and Bruce and his gang. Mullins, the owner of the scrap yard, decides that if it landed on his property, it must be his. A deal is finally struck. The meteorite is donated to the museum and exhibited along with advertising material for Mullins' Scrap Yard.
Episode 3 The Beast
Mike convinces his father, Tony, that it's time to buy a horse. But when Mike goes for a ride, the horse throws him, and Tony decides it's too dangerous. Mike swears that something scared the horse. To prove his point, the kids lay bait containing a transmitter. Using radio telemetry, the animal is tracked. It turns out to be a feral cat. Mike eventually buys the horse and names it Hendrix, in honour of Mike's guitar hero, Jimi Hendrix.
Episode 4 Tell Someone Who Cares
Tony asks Mike to go camping with him. Mike declines. Tony camps near where he and his late wife used to collect gemstones. Tony's vehicle gets bogged and his mobile phone is out of range, so he is unable to contact Mike. Mike gets worried, fearing his father is not going to come back - just like the day his mother didn't come back. Mike steals a four-wheel drive and goes in search of his father. Nikki helps Mike locate Tony, using GPS satellite navigation and stereoscopic map reading.
Episode 5 The Big Skip
Maggie, while listening into CB radio, hears a distress call from a child. But no one believes her. Nikki thinks Maggie's doing it for attention. The distress call is heard again and a satellite link is established with a low orbiting satellite that has a CB band. The distress call is pinpointed and the child is rescued. Maggie has given a Valentine Card to Mike. But he has presumed it came from Nikki and so Mike's reciprocated with a Valentine message to Nikki.
Episode 6 Goddess of the Dawn
Visiting Wright Foundation student, Romy, arrives to study an atmospheric phenomenon called 'The Southern Lights'. Mike decides it's time to try for the first kiss with Nikki. The kids observe sun spot activity and estimations made as to how many days before the Southern Lights will appear. A bet is made with Frank Giles, who doesn't think they'll see the lights at all. On the third night of sky watching for The Southern Lights, they finally appear - just as Mike and Nikki are leaning in for the their first kiss. Giles is forced to pay up on the bet he made.
Episode 7 Dead Ducks
The local legend of 'The Sundowner', a turn-of-the-century bushranger, sparks Mike's interest in looking for the bushranger's hideout. Dead ducks are discovered in a lake and an autopsy reveals that lead poisoning was the cause of death. Small traces of gold are also found in the duck's gullet. Using remote sensing, Mike and Nikki discover the exact location of The Sundowner's hideout, now covered by the lake. They search underwater and locate the submerged cave, but Bruce and his gang arrive to collect the spoils themselves. Much to their disgust, no gold is found. However, plenty of antique bottles are found and Mike and Nikki end up selling the antique bottles to a local dealer.
Episode 8 Is There Life On Earth?
Shane, a visiting student, is doing a project on the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Mike gets jealous that Nikki and Shane are spending so much time together and hatches a plan to fool Shane into believing that radio signals are being sent from space. But Nikki and Shane uncover the plan, and make it backfire on Mike. When the radio signals are decoded, an image of Jimi Hendrix appears, and Mike becomes the brunt of his own joke.
Episode 9 Letting Go
Items that Tony's late wife, Ellen, had with her on her final, fatal flight wash up in a lake. Mike wants to find out more, but Tony doesn't. Tony thinks that he's dealt with the issue of Ellen's death and doesn't want to open up old wounds. But Mike is insistent. Using remote sensing and by tracing the tidal patterns of the lake, the wreck of the plane is discovered. Tony and Mike re-enact Ellen's last flight in a flight simulator, and both father and son finally say their goodbyes to Ellen at the edge of the lake.
Episode 10 To Tell or Not to Tell
The magnetic field of Jupiter is a project that Zoe is supposedly studying as a Wright Foundation student. Unfortunately, it's Nikki's project as well. Zoe is not interested in science; her domineering mother has forced her into it. Zoe steals Nikki's research and presents it as her own at a conference. Maggie forgoes her part in the school play to go with Nikki and confront Zoe, only to find out that the same information was published in a science journal more than 20 years ago. Mike's father, Tony, also finds out that he will be going on the next shuttle mission. Mike gets angry when he finds out about this news from someone else.
Episode 11 Kiss the Sky
Nikki needs software to help her complete drawings for her project on Mars, but she can't afford the software. She sets about making enough money to buy the software. Meanwhile, she is asked to teach a local girl, Lynne, how to use a word processor. Lynne and Nikki have a falling out but finally become friends when Nikki discovers that Lynne is good at drawing illustrations. Instead of buying software, Nikki employs Lynne to illustrate her project. Mike and Nikki kiss for the first time.
Episode 12 Can't Buy Me Love
Marie's old boyfriend offers her a position with RGM Research, a private research organisation based in Sydney. Nikki doesn't want to leave Mike and live in Sydney. With Tony's help, Nikki finds out more about the company using a computer bulletin board. She discovers that RGM is involved in a variety of bio-engineering projects involving viruses. Paul is non-committal when asked if the research is going to be sold to the military. He doesn't know and certainly isn't interested in finding out. Marie eventually decides not to take up the new job.
Episode 13 Rocket to Me
An interschool competition sees the local school pitted against other schools to build the best rocket. During rocket testing, Mike discovers that his friend, Brad, is being bashed by his father. And Nikki and Mike's parents are concerned that their children are staying out too late at night. Nikki and Mike's family have a peace conference, dealing with family responsibilities. It's the day of the rocket competition and Brad doesn't arrive. Mike and Nikki find him having an argument with his father. Eventually, Mike, Nikki and Brad launch their rocket and it's a success.
Episode 14 Aliens
Nikki, Mike and Maggie see lights in the sky one night. They wonder if it's a UFO. Giles seems to be acting strangely and Maggie thinks Giles might be an alien. Mike and Nikki discover that Giles is interested in UFOs: a friend of Giles disappeared while investigating a UFO sighting. Mike, Nikki and Maggie hide in the back of Giles' vehicle as he goes out one night to investigate the cause of the weird lights. The lights appear and everyone is stunned. Whilst not admitting that there could be visitors from another planet, Giles does concede that "there are more things in heaven and earth than we could ever dream of".
Episode 15 Trees a Crowd
Maggie's favourite tree is under threat, about to be cut down by a bureaucrat, Mr Carver, to make way for a new building. Maggie and Tim, a visiting Wright Foundation student, band together to save the tree. They stage a sit-in up the tree, which then becomes a focal point for everyone's protest. Nikki climbs up to protest and is joined by Mike. Then Maggie's mother climbs up to protest and so does Giles. Eventually, Mr Carver joins the protest himself and finally the tree is saved.
Episode 16 Ice Balls
As Tony is preparing to leave for America and the shuttle mission, Nikki discovers a comet. To verify her discovery, she needs to use the optical scope at a nearby observatory. Whilst at school, Nikki and Mike fight because word leaks among the other students about their relationship. Mike farewells his father sullenly, while Nikki gets a ride to the Observatory. Nikki farewells Tony, who jokes that if he sees the comet whilst he's in the shuttle, he'll bring it back for Nikki. Nikki finally verifies her comet's existence at the Observatory.
Episode 17 Long Distance Call
Tony is launched into space aboard the shuttle. Nikki and Mike make up after their argument and the two hurry back from school to speak with Tony in space. The space shuttle is hit by space junk and communication is lost for a few hours. There is also a chance that the damaged shuttle may break up during re-entry into Earth's atmosphere. Mike and his father have an emotional conversation just prior to re-entry. The shuttle eventually returns safely to earth.
Episode 18 Star Time
Tony returns to Australia a hero after his scientific experiments in Space. Coral Lee, a television producer who wants him to become a celebrity on U.S. television, accompanies him. Tony leaves the decision about going to America up to Mike. Mike and Nikki fight about getting more serious in their relationship. It seems that Mike is going to leave Australia. Tony's Pluto probe, Vespucci, loses communication, much to Tony's consternation. But it's revealed that it's a hoax perpetrated by everyone at Kaputa in an attempt to convince Tony not to go back to America. Mike and Tony decide together not to leave.
Episode 19 Secrets
Wright Foundation student Simon comes to Kaputa to use remote sensing to locate ancient Aboriginal sites. Simon uses both intuition and science to help him locate an ancient cave. Mike doesn't believe in intuition. A new road being built threatens Simon's discovery and the kids chain themselves to a bulldozer to protest. Finally, the roadworks are stopped. Mike learns that everyone has intuition, not just Simon.
Episode 20 The Wish Star
Maggie and Nikki's father, Robert, arrives from France to do a story on Dr Tony Masters. Maggie thinks she sees a new star in the sky, but when Nikki looks, it's no longer there. Meanwhile, Tony is trying to build up the courage to ask Marie to a dance. Mike tries to give his father some tips on dating. Robert raises the possibility of the children going back to live with him in France. Tony helps Maggie find her "wish star" which turns out to a variable star. Tony also finally plucks up the courage to ask Marie to the dance.
Episode 21 Origins
Cleo, a Wright Foundation student, makes a major discovery. She detects a mass of hydrogen far out in space, but when it's suggested she and her parents have their photo taken for a newspaper, she declines. Cleo has just discovered that she's adopted, and with the help of Mike and Nikki, she tracks down her real mother. Cleo watches her mother from a distance, but decides not to make contact with her. Nikki and Maggie decide not to return to France with their father.
Episode 22 Penguin Point
Tony, Marie and their children go on a holiday together. Nikki discovers what looks like an oil slick on the ocean, and the discovery of an oil-soaked penguin confirms the children's fear. Mike and Nikki race against time to tell their parents, who are just beginning a romance. The tanker responsible for the oil slick is tracked down and the spill is cleaned up.
Episode 23 The Black Prince
Nikki is accepted into Space Camp. In her view, this is the first step towards her life-long dream of being the first woman on Mars. Meanwhile, Elfie is doing a study on the local wallaby population. Mike and Nikki argue and Nikki thinks that Mike is jealous. Mike says he's going to get out into Space before Nikki. Mike wires up his amplifier and guitar into the dish and transmits a volley of Hendrix guitar riffs into Space, much to Giles' anger. A wallaby becomes trapped and is threatened by an eagle during Elfie's study and Maggie fends off an eagle and saves the wallaby.
Episode 24 Wow
Nikki is making a video on the Search for Extra Terrestrials (SET), which Tony is researching. But Tony seems like he is losing his enthusiasm for science, until a real signal momentarily appears. But the signal doesn't reappear the next night. However, Tony's fire and enthusiasm for science is rekindled and by the end of the episode, Tony proposes to Marie.
Episode 25 Precious Days
Against the backdrop of Tony and Marie's impending marriage, Wright Foundation student, Jake, attempts to complete the 'final experiment'. At the point of his own death, he aims to transmit his energy through the dish and into Space. Nikki and Mike save the situation at the last moment. They begin to investigate the meaning of life and convince Jake that life is worth living. Jake finally changes his mind, but not before Mike and Nikki have discovered many differing views of the meaning of existence. Tony and Marie are finally married, with Marie in one part of Australia and Tony still at Kaputa. Giles organises a satellite link and the wedding is completed via television.
Episode 26 Do or Die
Tony, Marie, Nikki, Maggie and Mike fly to Melbourne, where Nikki is attending Space Camp. During the flight, Nikki gets motion sickness. This worries Nikki, who fears that the exercises at Space Camp will cause further bouts of motion sickness. As the new family books into the hotel, Maggie thinks that she sees a movie star, but no one believes her. Mike sneaks his way into Space Camp with Nikki, much to her disgust. During the final exercise at Space Camp, Nikki feels motion sickness and Mike helps her overcome it. Maggie eventually tracks down the elusive movie star and has her photo taken with him.
Australian Film Institute Awards
Winner (2 awards)
Prix Jeunesse International Festival
Banff Rockie Award