Ocean satellite launch critical to Australian science

June 20, 2008

Jason-2, or the Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM), is a joint venture between NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the French Space Agency (CNES) and the European Meteorology Satellite service (EUMETSAT).

"There's plenty resting on this satellite in terms of where our ocean and climate science is going," says Dr David Griffin, an oceanographer from the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans National Research Flagship and a member of the international Science Team which advises on satellite altimeter missions.

"Jason-2 provides a lifeline between space and some very significant science projects that are integral to our capabilities in understanding how the oceans are changing and particularly future ocean forecasting products," he says.

With an orbit 1336 kilometres above the Earth's surface, Jason-2 will be one of three satellites equipped with special altimetry sensors to precisely measure sea level, and indirectly infer ocean heat content changes.

This information is also important for: Australia's evolving ocean forecasting system, BLUElink; sea safety and offshore oil and gas operations; measuring global sea level rise; tracking large-scale ocean-atmosphere phenomena like El Niño and La Niña and marine mammals feeding in nutrient-rich ocean eddies; and forecasting currents for sports events such as the Sydney-Hobart yacht race.

High quality satellite altimetry started with the TOPEX/Poseidon mission (1992-2005), and continued with Jason-1 (2001-to the present). The altimeters measure sea surface height, from which we can estimate the strength and direction of ocean currents and also map sea level rise.

Australian scientists contribute to the science mission in a number of ways, including calibration of the sensors on board the satellite. CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, in conjunction with the University of Tasmania, the Bureau of Meteorology's National Tidal Centre and Geoscience Australia has been running a calibration facility at Burnie (NW Tasmania) since 1992. This was enhanced by the deployment of a French transportable Satellite Laser Ranging (SLR) system at Burnie earlier this year. Burnie is the only absolute calibration site in the Southern Hemisphere. The other two main sites are off the coast of California, and in the Mediterranean Sea.

The satellite will provide 95 per cent coverage of the world's ice-free oceans, repeating its coverage every 10 days and measuring sea surface height with an accuracy of about 3 centimetres.
-end-
Australian science agencies using data from the new satellite include the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research - a partnership of CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology - and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystem Cooperative Research Centre.

NB News Editors - The launch window is 5:46 to 5:55pm AEST this afternoon.

CSIRO Australia

Related Satellite Articles from Brightsurf:

NASA satellite gives a hello to tropical storm Dolly
During the morning of June 23, the fourth system in the Northern Atlantic Ocean was a subtropical depression.

Observing phytoplankton via satellite
Thanks to a new algorithm, researchers at the AWI can now use satellite data to determine in which parts of the ocean certain types of phytoplankton are dominant.

The Internet of Things by satellite will become increasingly accessible
Thanks to the implementation of advanced random access schemes using efficient, low complexity algorithms.

Satellite broken? Smart satellites to the rescue
The University of Cincinnati is developing robotic networks that can work independently but collaboratively on a common task.

Satellite images reveal global poverty
How far have we come in achieving the UN's sustainable development goals that we are committed to nationally and internationally?

Satellite data exposes looting
Globally archaeological heritage is under threat by looting. The destruction of archaeological sites obliterates the basis for our understanding of ancient cultures and we lose our shared human past.

NASA satellite finds 16W now subtropical
NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite found 16W was still being battered by wind shear after transitioning into an extra-tropical cyclone.

How far to go for satellite cloud image forecasting into operation
Simulated satellite cloud images not only have the visualization of cloud imagery, but also can reflect more information about the model.

NASA confirms re-discovered IMAGE satellite
The identity of the satellite re-discovered on Jan. 20, 2018, has been confirmed as NASA's IMAGE satellite.

Satellite keeps an eye on US holiday travel weather
A satellite view of the US on Dec. 22 revealed holiday travelers on both coasts are running into wet weather.

Read More: Satellite News and Satellite Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.