October 29, 2008

Jason-2 all set to take satellite altimetry into higher gear

After 4 months of in-orbit commissioning, Jason-2 has entered the operational phase of its mission. The new ocean-observing satellite offers many improvements compared to its predecessor Jason-1.

1st months like clockwork

Jason-2 has been in orbit since 20 June. It is now trailing Jason-1, from which it is set to take over for at least the next 5 years. Like its predecessor, the new satellite uses a radar altimeter to measure signals reflected by the oceans.

Jason-2 is capable of measuring sea-surface height with an absolute accuracy of 3 to 4 cm, as well as wave height and wind speed. One of its science objectives is to extend the continuous data record of sea-surface heights to 20 years.créer raccourci It will accomplish this mission by flying over exactly the same ground track as Topex/Poseidon (1992-2003) and Jason-1 (launched in 2001), only with much-improved measurement precision.

“Over the last 4 months, CNES teams of engineers have been checking out the satellite, in particular calibrating the payload instruments,” explains Jacqueline Perbos, Jason-2 Project Leader at CNES. “The 1st data already received are most satisfactory (Ed. see news 7 August 2008) and in close agreement with those obtained from Jason-1.”

From checkout to operations

Wednesday 29 October, the development team officially handed over to operations teams at CNES, NOAA1, NASA and Eumetsat2.
The teams will now keep the satellite running smoothly throughout its mission, performing routine operations, processing data from ground stations in near-real time, and archiving and distributing operational products, like near-real-time ocean bulletins, and other vital information for decision-makers.
The agency will be pressed into action if the satellite goes into safe mode in the event that an anomaly is detected in one of its systems. Above all, it will process and deliver high-precision science products, used for example to refine ocean forecasting models like Mercator.
1 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (United States)
2 European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites

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