Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Launched November 21, 2020
Sentinel-6 ​B Launch Plan: 2025

The Jason Continuity of Service (Jason-CS) mission on the Sentinel-6 spacecraft is an international partnership between the U.S. and Europe. Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 includes two identical satellites with the first launched November 21, 2020 (Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich) and the second scheduled for launch in 2025 (satellite B). Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich (formerly, Satellite A) was renamed in February 2020 to honor Dr. Michael Freilich, Director of NASA’s Earth Science Division from 2006-2019. Mike passed away in August 2020, leaving a tremendous legacy of service to the agency, Earth science in general, and satellite oceanography in particular.

Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 will ensure continuity of sea level observations into a fourth decade. Like their predecessors, these satellites will provide ongoing measurements of global sea level rise – one of the most important indicators of human-caused climate change. The data will also support operational oceanography through improved forecasts of ocean currents as well as wind and wave conditions. This data will allow improvements in both short-term forecasting for weather predictions in the two- to four-week range (e.g. hurricane intensity predictions), and long-term forecasting for seasonal conditions (e.g. El Niño, La Niña).

With a new experiment: Global Navigation Satellite System Radio Occultation (GNSS-RO), Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 will also aid weather prediction. Watching GNSS satellites as they disappear over the horizon will provide detailed information about the layers in the atmosphere. This information will contribute to computer models that predict the weather and enhance forecasting capabilities.

Since 1992, high-precision satellite altimeters have been essential in helping scientists understand how the ocean stores and redistributes heat, water, and carbon in the climate system. The Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 satellites will extend this legacy through at least 2030, providing a nearly 40-year record of sea level rise, along with changes in ocean currents and conditions.