News Release: 2002-227
Jason Mission Status
The joint NASA-French Space Agency oceanography satellite Jason is set
to embark on the science phase of its scheduled five-year voyage to
study ocean circulation and its effect on climate. Jason's
instruments have been accurately cross-calibrated with its predecessor
spacecraft, Topex/Poseidon, and the quality of its science products
has been validated.
The end of the mission's calibration/validation phase paves the way
for production and distribution of Jason's first official science data
products sometime in February.
Dr. Lee-Lueng Fu, JPL project scientist for Jason and Topex/Poseidon,
said his team is pleased with Jason's performance. "While there's
still room for improvement, Jason's measurement performance has
already exceeded Topex/Poseidon's," he said. "We look forward to
sharing Jason data with the world scientific community in the very
near future, where we expect it will have an immediate impact in
providing new insights into the currently developing El Niño condition."
Jason will continue Topex/Poseidon's observations of ocean surface
topography for monitoring world ocean circulation, studying
interactions of the oceans and atmosphere, improving climate
predictions and observing events like El Niño. Its onboard altimeter
precisely maps the surface height of 95 percent of Earth's ice-free
oceans every 10 days. Sea-surface heights are a measure of how much
heat is stored in the ocean below. This heat influences both present
weather and future planetary climate events. The spacecraft also
provides continuous data on wind speed and wave height.
Launched December 7, 2001, Jason now complements the Topex/Poseidon
oceanography satellite, launched in August 1992. Last August,
Topex/Poseidon was maneuvered to an orbit halfway between its original
orbits, which are now being covered by Jason. The two satellites are
now performing a tandem mission that will enable improved detection of
ocean eddies, coastal tides and currents.
The U.S. portion of the Topex/Poseidon and Jason missions is managed
by JPL for NASA's Earth Science Enterprise, Washington, D.C. Research
on Earth's oceans using Topex/Poseidon and Jason and other space-based
capabilities is conducted by NASA's Earth Science Enterprise to better
understand and protect our home planet.
More information about Jason and Topex/Poseidon is available at: