Ocean Surface Tracking Satellite Launches from California


Image from NASA

A satellite which may help scientists make more accurate climate and weather predictions by monitoring the shape of the world's oceans launched Friday morning from California, reports BBC's Jonathan Amos. Jason-2, a joint project between NASA and CNES, the French space agency, will send back a topographic map of 95 percent of the planet's ice-free oceans every 10 days. The readings will help researchers track sea level fluctuations and the movements of water bodies around Earth. Following in the footsteps of the Topex/Poseidon mission and Jason-1, its direct predecessor, Jason-2 will serve as the global benchmark for satellite-measured ocean height. At the heart of the satellite lies the Poseidon 3 solid-state altimeter. The technology allows the satellite to take pinpoint accurate readings of ocean surface height by bouncing and timing microwave pulses off the sea surface.

Some other uses for the satellite could include maritime navigation, storm prediction, whale watching and industry activities like cable laying or undersea drilling. Jason-2 will spend its first few months in operation flying a "tandem mission" with Jason-1 to measure ocean surface height. The researchers want to cross-calibrate the satellites' instruments to ensure that the measurements recorded by Jason-2 are comparable to those collected by its predecessor.

Once the calibration period is over, Jason-1 and Jason-2 will fly separate missions to collect twice as much data. When Jason-1 eventually peters out, the scientists hope to have a Jason-3 satellite ready to take it place. For more specifics about Jason-2 and some enlightening videos, head over to the BBC's website.

Via ::BBC News: Key ocean mission goes into orbit (news website)

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Tags: Oceans

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