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Ocean Surface Topography from Space
Jason-2 is Five Years Old
June 21, 2013
Headed for Orbit
Headed for Orbit!
June 20, 2008 - Clouds of smoke and steam rise around the Delta II rocket as it lifts off Space Launch Complex-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, with the Ocean Surface Topography Mission spacecraft aboard.

Image Credit: Carleton Bailie/United Launch Alliance

Thursday, June 20, 2013, marked the fifth anniversary of the launch of the Ocean Surface Topography Mission on the Jason-2 satellite (Jason-2) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. In just a few hours after its early morning launch, the spacecraft had made its first full revolution around Earth. The satellite has now made more than 25,550 orbits around our planet, keeping its highly accurate radar altimeter tuned to measure changes in the dynamic topography of our ocean. Day-by-day, month-by-month, and year-after-year, Jason-2 has continued to seamlessly add to the more than 20-year record of global sea surface height measurements begun by TOPEX/Poseidon in 1992.

TOPEX/Poseidon and follow-on missions proved the usefulness of spaceborne radar altimeters for measuring sea surface height. These measurements have made a vast improvement in our understanding of ocean circulation and events such as El Niño and La Nña, which have global effects on weather and climate.

With dedicated teams from research and operational agencies in the United States and Europe - NASA and NOAA in the U.S.; CNES and Eumetsat in Europe - Jason-2 is the first truly operational ocean radar altimetry mission. Data from the spacecraft are supporting the normal operation of oceanographic, weather and climate, fisheries, and recreational organizations. Organizations such as these, along with the Ocean Surface Topography Science Team are looking toward the launch of the Jason-3 satellite in 2013 to continue to provide and further extend this important dataset.

It's hard to believe it has already been five years since the launch of Jason-2, but as the mission managers say, "Time flies when you are having fun!" / "Le temps passe vite lorsqu'on s'amuse !"

Congratulations to the OSTM/Jason-2 mission teams and to the Ocean Surface Topography Science Team on this important milestone.

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