Altimeter Satellites: Topex/Poseidon, Jason, ERS-1, ERS-2, and EnviSat

Aqua -Latin for water , is a NASA Earth Science satellite mission named for the large amount of information that the mission will be collecting about the Earth's water cycle, including evaporation from the oceans, water vapor in the atmosphere, clouds, precipitation, soil moisture, sea ice, land ice, and snow cover on the land and ice. Additional variables also being measured by Aqua include radiative energy fluxes, aerosols, vegetation cover on the land, phytoplankton and dissolved organic matter in the oceans, and air, land, and water temperatures.

Defence Meteorological Satellite Program DMSP DMSP was designed to provide high-quality weather images to our military. Since the beginning of program, Aerospace has provided systems engineering and integration support. In 1998 DMSP was incorporated into the National Polar Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS), creating a joint civil-military weather system.

Envisat In March 2002, the European Space Agency launched Envisat, an advanced polar-orbiting Earth observation satellite which provides measurements of the atmosphere, ocean, land, and ice. The Envisat satellite has an ambitious and innovative payload that will ensure the continuity of the data measurements of the ESA ERS satellites. Envisat data supports earth science research and allows monitoring of the evolution of environmental and climatic changes.

Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment GRACE GRACE, twin satellites launched in March 2002, are making detailed measurements of Earth's gravity field which will lead to discoveries about gravity and Earth's natural systems. These discoveries could have far-reaching benefits to society and the world's population.

Jason-1 Satellite from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Jason-1 is the first follow-on to the highly successful TOPEX/Poseidon mission that measured ocean surface topography to an accuracy of 4.2 cm, enabled scientists to forecast the 1997-1998 El Nino, and improved understanding of ocean circulation and its effect of global climate. The joint NASA- CNES program will launch a French spacecraft on an American Delta II from an American base. Like TOPEX/Poseidon, the payload will include both American and French instruments. Jason-1 altimeter data will be part of a suite of data provided by other JPL-managed ocean missions--the GRACE mission will use two satellites to accurately measure Earth's mass distribution, and the QuikSCAT scatterometer mission will measure ocean-surface winds.


QuickSCAT NASA's Quick Scatterometer (QuikSCAT) was lofted into space at 7:15 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Saturday (6/19/99) atop a U.S. Air Force Titan II launch vehicle from Space Launch Complex 4 West at California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. The satellite was launched in a south-southwesterly direction, soaring over the Pacific Ocean at sunset as it ascended into space to achieve an initial elliptical orbit with a maximum altitude of about 800 kilometers (500 miles) above Earth's surface.

Terra Terra is a multi-national, multi-disciplinary mission involving partnerships with the aerospace agencies of Canada and Japan. Managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, the mission also receives key contributions from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Langley Research Center. Terra is an important part of NASA's Science Mission, helping us better understand and protect our home planet.

Topex/Poseidon from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Launched in 1992, TOPEX/Poseidon is a joint venture between CNES and NASA to map ocean surface topography. While a 3-year prime mission was planned, with a 5-year store of expendables, TOPEX/Poseidon has delivered an astonishing 10+ years of data from orbit.

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Revised on: 9 June, 2005

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