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Jason-3 mission successfully launched

Category: News of the Jason-3 mission

Jason-3 was successfully launched Sunday 17 January at 18:42 UTC from Vandenberg, California. The satellite is now under control of teams at CNES’s Toulouse Space Centre in charge of powering up the bus and payload.

Press release from Cnes, 
Paris, 17 January 2016

The French-U.S. Jason-3 altimetry satellite was successfully launched Sunday 17 January at 18:42 UTC from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB), California, by a SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher supplied by NASA. The satellite is now under control of teams at CNES’s Toulouse Space Centre in charge of powering up the bus and payload. Jason-3 will then begin its mission to extend the long record of high-precision ocean current and sea-surface height data built up by its predecessors TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1 and Jason-2.

A collaboration of CNES, NASA, NOAA and Eumetsat, the Jason-3 satellite is designed to continue the reference altimetry mission for the Copernicus-MyOcean service, supporting the study of sea level variations, surface wave height and wind speed (for meteorology and navigation), continental altimetry (vital for continental hydrology) and operational oceanography. Jason-3 is the latest in the series of Jason satellites that draw their heritage from the pioneering TOPEX/Poseidon altimetry satellite, launched by CNES in 1992, which marked a watershed in the study of ocean movements before bowing out in 2006, having exceeded its design lifetime by more than eight years. In 1997-1998, TOPEX/Poseidon was the first to closely track an El Niño/La Niña episode from space, revealing all the early telltale signs of the bulge of warm water propagating across the ocean 20 to 30 centimetres above the average sea-surface height, thus providing proof of the ocean’s role in Earth’s climate system.

From its highly inclined 1,336-kilometre orbit, Jason-3 will cover 95% of the globe’s ice-free oceans every 10 days. Planned to operate for three years with a possible mission extension to five years, it will assure the data continuity so vital to effective monitoring of global warming until at least 2021, before being joined by two other satellites, Jason-CS-A/Sentinel-6A and Jason-CS-B/Sentinel-6B.

Developed by CNES and Thales Alenia Space, Jason-3 is built around a Proteus spacecraft bus. It is carrying a Poseidon-3B altimeter, the main mission instrument that measures the range from the satellite to the ocean surface, an advanced microwave radiometer (AMR) to measure emitted radiation, a CNES-designed DORIS orbit determination system, a GPS payload (GPSP) and a laser retroreflector array (LRA) developed by NASA/JPL.

On the occasion of the launch, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “It is quite an emotional moment to see the launch of Jason-3, one of the most emblematic satellites of French-U.S. cooperation and a true pioneer of satellite altimetry, whose predecessors Jason-1 and Jason-2 were the first to record the rise in global sea level, marking a watershed in the study of global warming. The Jason series has supplied a treasure trove of data for oceanographers and climate experts all over the world and Jason-3 is now set to bring them a new tool that will play a crucial role in tackling climate change as part of the fleet of satellites that were in the spotlight at the recent COP21 climate conference in Paris.”

Further information:

  • Missions: <link internal-link>Jason-3
  • <link internal-link>Altimetry applications in videos (2015)


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