13 years of loyal service
Launched by CNES and Nasa in 1992, Topex/Poseidon was designed to fly up to 5 years.
But, thanks to a dedicated operations team and with the satellite still operational and delivering high-quality data at the end of its nominal service life, the mission was extended several times.
CNES and Nasa mission managers therefore declared an end to the mission.
Today, this collaboration is continuing through the Jason-1 satellite, with which Topex/Poseidon flew in tandem for 4 years.
A leap forward for satellite altimetry
These data have helped scientists to study sea level, tides and ocean current variations.
In 1997-1998, for example, Topex/Poseidon provided the 1st-ever opportunity to track the El Niño/La Niña climate event close up, detecting the 1st signs of its onset—the propagation of a bulge of warm water 20 to 30 cm higher than the rest of the ocean surface—very early on.
It was a precursor in satellite altimetry, paving the way for future operational oceanography satellites in the shape of Jason-1 and soon Jason-2, to be launched in 2008.