Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason 2 Begins Mapping Oceans

Jul 30, 2008
OSTM/Jason 2 map of sea-level anomalies from July 4 to July 14, 2008 (above). Click on the image to see this view compared to the same 10-day period of data from Jason 1.

(PhysOrg.com) -- Less than a month after launch, the NASA-French space agency Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason 2 oceanography satellite has produced its first complete maps of global ocean surface topography, surface wave height and wind speed.

The new data will help scientists monitor changes in global sea level and the distribution of heat in the ocean. This information is used to monitor climate change and ocean circulation, and to enable more accurate weather, ocean and climate forecasts. The data reveal patterns of sea level anomalies, which are used by scientists to calculate the speed and direction of ocean surface currents.

The new mission extends a 16-year continuous record of global sea level measurements begun in 1992 by the NASA/Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) Topex/Poseidon mission and continued by the two agencies on Jason 1, launched in 2001. Data from Topex/Poseidon and Jason 1 show that mean sea level has been rising by about three millimeters (.12 inches) a year since 1993.

The new maps were generated from the first 10 days of data collected once the new satellite, OSTM/Jason 2, reached its operational orbit of 1,336 kilometers (830 miles) on July 4. The new satellite and its predecessor, Jason 1, are now flying in formation in the same orbit approximately 55 seconds apart, making nearly simultaneous measurements that are allowing scientists to precisely calibrate the new satellite's instruments. Comparisons of data from the two satellites on sea-level anomalies, significant wave height and ocean wind speed all show very close correlation of all measured parameters.

"These initial observations from OSTM/Jason 2 compare very closely to those of Jason 1," said Lee-Lueng Fu, OSTM/Jason 2 project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "To be able to collect such high-quality science data within a month of launch breaks previous records. It is also a direct reflection of how mature the field of satellite altimetry has become and of the seamless cooperation of our international team."

The satellite's first radar altimeter data were acquired just 48 hours after its launch on June 20 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on a Delta II rocket. The French space agency processed the first test results, followed by more advanced data results a week after launch. The more advanced results came after calculating the precise location of the satellite's preliminary orbits. The satellite, its instruments and ground segment are all functioning properly. Once it has been fully calibrated and validated, the satellite will begin providing oceanographic products to users around the world.

OSTM/Jason 2 is an international endeavor, with responsibilities for satellite development and launch shared between NASA and CNES. CNES provided the OSTM/Jason 2 spacecraft, NASA provided the launch, and NASA and CNES jointly provided the primary payload instruments. CNES and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are responsible for satellite operations, while JPL is managing the mission for NASA. Data processing is being carried out by CNES, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and NOAA, depending on the type of product.

Once on-orbit commissioning of OSTM/Jason 2 is completed, CNES will hand over mission operations and control to NOAA, which will then join with EUMETSAT to generate, archive and distribute data products to users worldwide.

Provided by NASA

Explore further: Calbuco volcano – evacuations and air-traffic disruption follow eruption

Related Stories

Google big Android Wear update adds functions, fun

54 minutes ago

Android Wear's Monday announcement of new features is drawing many compliments from those watching out for what's next in making a smartwatch purchase. The new attractions include the lightness of wearing ...

Extending climate predictability beyond El Nino

44 minutes ago

Tropical Pacific climate variations and their global weather impacts may be predicted much further in advance than previously thought, according to research by an international team of climate scientists ...

Data deluge: MLB rolls out Statcast analytics on Tuesday

2 hours ago

Which outfielder sprints the fastest and runs the longest to snag line drives into the gap? Which shortstop is best at throwing from the grass to nip the runner at first? Which catcher gets the ball to second ...

Recommended for you

Did Kathmandu shift? Questions and Answers

2 hours ago

The tremor which struck Nepal on Saturday, killing more than 3,500 people, may have caused a land area around the capital Kathmandu to budge by several metres, experts say.

More than 2,200 confirmed dead in Nepal earthquake

Apr 26, 2015

A powerful aftershock shook Nepal on Sunday, making buildings sway and sending panicked Kathmandu residents running into the streets a day after a massive earthquake left more than 2,200 people dead.

Nepal quake: Nearly 1,400 dead, Everest shaken (Update)

Apr 25, 2015

Tens of thousands of people were spending the night in the open under a chilly and thunderous sky after a powerful earthquake devastated Nepal on Saturday, killing nearly 1,400, collapsing modern houses and ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.