Jason-2 in Space

It has nothing to do with Wes Craven and is not nearly as scary as it sounds: new details have been released about the Jason-2 (Joint Altimetry Satellite Oceanography Network) satellite set to be launched from Vandenberg AFB in October 2008. In a demonstration of international cooperation in global warming research, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency is working with the French company CNES on the project:

The science objectives of Jason-2/OSTM are to extend the time series of ocean surface topography measurements to: a) obtain a continuous record of observations (with the previous missions), b) to determine the variability of ocean circulation at decadal time scales from combined data record with T/P and Jason, c) improve the measure of the time-averaged ocean circulation, d) improve the measure of global sea-level change, and e) improve open ocean tide models.

The mission objectives call for the provision of the same measurement accuracy of Jason (3.3 cm) with a goal of achieving 2.5 cm, and to maintain the stability of the global mean sea level measurement with a drift less than 1 mm/year over the life of the mission. The overall goal is to better understand the forces behind global changes of climate and to predict seasonal anomalies in weather patterns; this is vital to understand the physics of the ocean.

Jason-2 is scheduled to join Jason-1 in the same orbit with a 10 day repeat observation cycle. Both satellites will pass within minutes of each other over the same ocean surface, thus enabling verification and cross-calibration of the collected data. Together, they will provide a vital contribution to the expanding network of global ocean observations and their application in meteorology, operational oceanography and climate monitoring.