Jason-3 Anticipated Launch: 2015
The agreement in 1987 between CNES and NASA to join resources and expertise on the TOPEX/Poseidon project culminated 20 years of development into using a spaceborne radar altimeter to measure ocean-surface topography.
TOPEX/Poseidon was launched August 10, 1992 from the ESA launch facility at Kourou, French Guiana, aboard an Ariane 42P launch vehicle. TOPEX/Poseidon data revolutionized the way the global ocean is studied. For the first time, the seasonal cycle and other temporal variabilities of the ocean were determined globally with high accuracy, yielding fundamentally important information for testing ocean circulation models. Many major observations were made using TOPEX/Poseidon data.
Recognizing the importance of continuing ocean surface topography measurement, NASA and CNES approved Jason-1 as a joint follow-on to TOPEX/Poseidon. Many years of scientific discovery by TOPEX/Poseidon have broadened its original list of science objectives.
Jason-1 flies as a joint NASA/CNES follow-on to TOPEX/Poseidon. OSTM/Jason-2 is a joint NASA/CNES/NOAA/Eumetsat mission, launched as a follow-on to Jason-1. Each of the spacecraft carry 5 similar or identical instruments. On OSTM/Jason-2, the CNES-supplied spacecraft carries the payload of five instruments: the POSEIDON-3 dual frequency altimeter, the mission's main instrument which measures altitude; the Advanced Microwave Radiometer (AMR) to measure perturbations due to atmospheric water vapor; and the three location-finding systems: the DORIS Doppler orbitography beacon, the laser retroreflector array (LRA), and the Global Positioning System Payload (GPSP). These instruments are designed to provide measurements for at least 5 years. Jason-1 and OSTM/Jason-2 were launched from Vandenberg AFB aboard NASA-supplied Delta rockets, Jason-1 on December 7, 2001, and OSTM/Jason-2 on June 20, 2008. After TOPEX/Poseidon was decommissioned in January 2006, Jason-1 continued the task of providing the important oceanographic data time-series originated by its predecessor. OSTM/Jason-2 continues this important data into the second decade, and now flies in tandem with Jason-1.
Jason-1 and OSTM/Jason-2 are integrated into numerous international climate-study programs, provide near real-time data access, and mark the beginning of the operational era of collecting these critical oceanographic parameters. The next in the altimeter series, Jason-3, is planned for launch in 2014.
Where are they now?
Have you ever looked up in the night sky to see a satellite? Have you wondered what satellite it was? Maybe it was Jason-1 or OSTM/Jason-2. You can find out! See where Jason-1 and OSTM/Jason-2 are right now.
To find out when you can view these satellites from your area, go to Heavens-Above and follow the directions below.