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Dual Capacity Established for Jason High Precision Ocean Altimetry Mission

Status Report From: EUMETSAT
Posted: Friday, October 14, 2016

After the launch of Jason-3 on 17 January 2016, the two satellites flew in a tandem configuration, about 80 seconds or 500km apart from each other. This allowed for a precise comparison and direct cross calibration between the instruments flying on both platforms. During this phase, the instruments aboard Jason-3 were fully calibrated and have demonstrated performances at least equivalent to those of Jason-2. Based on these results, the satellite was deemed ready for operational service.

In order to improve sampling and spatial coverage, Jason-2 has now been moved to its final position, on the same orbit but at 162° from Jason-3, thus overflying different ocean surfaces and at a different time than Jason-3.

The Jason-3 satellite will continue the long term climate data record on the ground track previously occupied by Topex/Poseidon, Jason-1 and, until recently, Jason-2.

Because of their precision, the Jason missions have become the reference for all satellite altimeters, including the Copernicus Sentinel-3A satellite, launched on 16 February 2016 and operated by EUMETSAT in cooperation with ESA.

Ultimately, Jason-3 will form the backbone of a virtual constellation of ocean altimeter missions.

Josh Willis, NASA Jason-3 project scientist said, "Jason-3 is our window onto the impact of human-caused climate change across the planet.  As ocean levels rise due to global warming, the Jason-3 satellite will observe the literal reshaping of more than two-thirds of Earth's surface."

Laury Miller, NOAA Jason Program Scientist said, "Jason-3 will carry the sea level rise monitoring task that is the hallmark of the Jason missions forward, but the continued operation of Jason-2, in combination with Jason-3, adds another critical dimension. Doubling the number of altimeter sea level observations improves our ability forecast over a range of scales, from the movement of local oil spills to massive El Niño events."

Philippe Escudier, Oceanography Programme Manager of CNES said: "Jason-3 will provide essential operational measurements, benefiting from a long series of research and development efforts which allow to reach the necessary measurement accuracy and to optimize the hardware design to make it sustainable in a long term series. In the near term, a new generation of satellite altimetry providing high resolution monitoring will be demonstrated. SWOT, wide swath altimetry mission, which is under development (NASA & CNES), will directly inherit from Jason heritage and will benefit from the absolute accuracy of Jason for the calibration of its measurements."

Francois Parisot, Altimetry Manager at EUMETSAT said: "The ocean evolves across different scales - levels – from mid-latitude eddies to large scale currents. Therefore and  improving space/time sampling altimetry of ocean topography measurements is essential. With Jason-2, Jason-3 and Sentinel-3 we are now making a major step forward."

About Jason-3

Jason-3 is the result of an international partnership between EUMETSAT, the French Space Agency (CNES), the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the European Union, which funds European contributions to Jason-3 operations as part of the European Commission's Copernicus Programme.

Within Copernicus, Jason-3 is the reference mission for cross-calibrating Sentinel-3 observations of sea surface height and the precursor to the future cooperative Sentinel-6/Jason-CS mission also implemented in partnership between Europe and the United States.

EUMETSAT, CNES and NOAA will process data from Jason-3, with EUMETSAT being responsible for data services to users of the EUMETSAT and EU Member States, on behalf of the EU Copernicus Programme. Data access in Europe will be secured via the multi-mission infrastructure available at EUMETSAT and CNES, including EUMETSAT’s EUMETCast real-time data dissemination system, Earth Observation Portal and archives, as well as CNES’s AVISO data system.

ABOUT EUMETSAT

The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites is an intergovernmental organisation based in Darmstadt, Germany, currently with 30 Member States (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom) and one Cooperating State (Serbia).

EUMETSAT operates the geostationary satellites Meteosat-8, -9, -10 and -11 over Europe and Africa, and Meteosat-7 over the Indian Ocean.

EUMETSAT also operates two Metop polar-orbiting satellites as part of the Initial Joint Polar System (IJPS) shared with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

EUMETSAT is also a partner in the cooperative high precision ocean altimetry Jason missions involving Europe and the United States (Jason-2, Jason-3 and Jason-CS/Sentinel-6).

The data and products from EUMETSAT’s satellites are vital to weather forecasting and make a significant contribution to the monitoring of environment and climate change.

After completion of the in-orbit commissioning of Sentinel-3A, EUMETSAT will exploit the Copernicus Sentinel-3 marine mission in cooperation withESA and on behalf of the EU, and deliver data services to the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service and users.

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