By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – One of the key instruments to measure sea level rise, the Jason-2 satellite has successfully ended its mission, according to officials from NASA. The satellite orbited the earth’s atmosphere for eleven years collecting data on our oceans.
“Jason-2/OSTM has provided unique insight into ocean currents and sea-level rise with tangible benefits to marine forecasting, meteorology and our understanding of climate change,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington last week.
“Today we celebrate the end of this resoundingly successful international mission,” added Zurbuchen. According to NASA and its mission partners the decision to end the mission was made after detecting deterioration in the spacecraft’s power system.
Launched into space on June 20, 2008 the satellite was originally designed for a 3-to-5-year mission. Since its launch, Jason-2/OSTM registered nearly 2 inches of global sea-level rise, a critical measure of climate change, said officials. The mission has also resulted in the distribution of over a million data numbers and the publication of more than 2,100 science papers.
Jason-2/OSTM was a joint mission between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and several European partners, including France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).
“During its eleven-year run, Jason-2/OSTM helped improve NOAA’s hurricane intensity forecasts and provided important observations of marine winds and waves and in doing so has anchored these essential ocean altimetry observations in NOAA’s operational observing system requirements,” said Steve Volz, assistant administrator of NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service.
Due to the degradation of the spacecraft’s power system, the international space research partners decided to end the mission to decrease risks to other satellites and future missions. Final decommissioning operations for Jason-2/OSTM is scheduled to be completed by France’s CNES on October 10th.
The research and data collecting on sea level rise conducted by Jason-2 will be continued by its successor, Jason-3, launched in 2016.