January 17, 2016

Jason-3 in orbit: the ocean odyssey continues

Jason-3 was successfully launched Sunday 17 January from Vandenberg Air Force Base in the United States. The oceanography satellite is now under the control of CNES’s engineers in Toulouse, who will be guiding it to its final science orbit.

At 19:42 CET, the U.S. Falcon 9 launcher lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, releasing the Jason-3 satellite 55 minutes later. For CNES positioning teams, the task of raising the spacecraft to its mission orbit circling Earth at an altitude of 1,336 km has now begun.

The objective is to place Jason-3 about one minute behind Jason-2

says Christophe Maréchal, spacecraft operations manager at CNES.

“It will take 3 to 4 weeks to place the satellite in its final orbit, depending on the position of Jason-2 and how precisely Jason-3 was injected into orbit. We’ll only know that once all its systems have been switched on, its antennas pointed at Earth and the GPS data received on the ground. We’ll then be able to calculate the trajectory Jason-3 will need to take to get into its orbit trailing Jason-2, which we positioned in 2008.”

The Falcon 9 launcher lifts off with the Jason-3 satellite on Sunday 17 January at 19:42 CET. Credits: NASA/AFP/NASA/Bill Ingalls.



The Falcon 9 launcher lifts off with the Jason-3 satellite on Sunday 17 January at 19:42 CET. Credits: NASA/AFP/NASA/Bill Ingalls.

 


A long series of oceanography satellites

More than 10,000 people in more than 120 countries use Jason data to model the oceans and climate and for weather forecasting. It is largely thanks to the series of oceanography satellites that began in 1992 with TOPEX/Poseidon that we now know that mean sea level is rising at a rate of 3.3 mm a year.

 

But as Philippe Escudier, in charge of ocean/cryosphere studies at CNES, underlines:

Jason-3 will not just be extending the series of measurements acquired by its predecessors; it will also be helping scientists to meet new challenges.

“For example, to understand what is driving regional variations in sea level rise and to determine how and where the ocean absorbs the excess heat generated by global warming: at the surface or in the deeper layers of the oceans? These are key questions we need to answer to accurately predict the evolution of Earth’s climate.”

bpc_jason-cs.jpg
Credits: Airbus Defence & Space

Did you know?

The Jason ocean odyssey is set to continue through to 2026 with the launch of Jason-CS-A/Sentinel-6A in 2020 and Jason-CS-B/Sentinel-6B in 2026.

 Philippe Escudier. Credits: CNES.