Ocean Survey Spacecraft Arrives at Launch Site
PASADENA, Calif. – A NASA and French Space Agency (CNES) spacecraft designed
to continue a long-term survey of Earth's oceans has arrived at Vandenberg
Air Force Base, Calif., for final launch preparations. The new satellite will
study ocean circulation and the effect oceans have on weather, climate and
how Earth is responding to global climate change.
The Ocean Surface Topography Mission, called OSTM for short, will be flown
on the Jason-2 spacecraft, which was transported on April 24 from its manufacturer,
Thales Alenia Space, in Cannes, France, to Toulouse, France. It was loaded
onto a Boeing 747 aircraft for its trans-Atlantic journey and after refueling
in Boston, it arrived April 29 at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Following final
tests, it will be integrated onto a United Launch Alliance Delta II launch
vehicle in preparation for a planned launch in June.
With the launch of this satellite, the science of precisely measuring and
studying the height of the sea surface across Earth's oceans will come of age.
Continuous collection of these measurements began in 1992 with the NASA/CNES
Topex/Poseidon mission and continued in 2001 with NASA/CNES's Jason-1 mission,
which is currently providing near-real-time data to a variety of users. The
addition of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and
the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites
(EUMETSAT) as partners on OSTM/Jason-2 begins transitioning the responsibility
for collecting these data to weather and climate forecasting agencies, which
will use them for short-range and seasonal-to-long-range ocean forecasting.
The 15-plus-year climate data record that this mission will continue is the
only one capable of addressing how ocean circulation is linked to climate
change and how global sea level, one of the most important consequences and
indicators of global climate change, is changing.
Satellite observations of Earth's oceans have revolutionized our understanding
of global climate by improving ocean models and hurricane forecasts, and
identifying and tracking large ocean/atmosphere phenomena such as El Niño
and La Niña. The data are used every day in applications as diverse as, for
example, routing ships, improving the safety and efficiency of offshore industry
operations, managing fisheries and tracking marine mammals.
The spacecraft will be launched into a 1,336-kilometer (830-mile) circular,
non-sun-synchronous orbit at an inclination of 66 degrees to Earth's equator,
allowing it to monitor 95 percent of Earth's ice-free oceans every 10 days.
The Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason-2 is an international and interagency
mission developed and operated as a four-party collaboration among NASA; NOAA;
the French Space Agency, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales; and EUMETSAT. CNES
is providing the spacecraft, NASA and CNES are jointly providing the payload
instruments and NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center is
responsible for the launch management and countdown operations for the Delta II.
After completing the on-orbit commissioning of the spacecraft, CNES will hand over
operation and control of the spacecraft to NOAA. NOAA and EUMETSAT will generate
the near-real-time products and distribute them to users. NASA's Jet Propulsion
Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission
Directorate, Washington. JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of
Technology in Pasadena.
For more information on the Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason-2, visit:
Media contact: Alan Buis 818-354-0474
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726
NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.