NASA ends ocean-monitoring satellite mission

NASA has announced it has ended the Jason-2/Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM), the third in a US-European series of satellite missions designed to measure sea surface height, the company said.

NASA and its mission partners made the decision to end the mission after detecting deterioration in the spacecraft´s power system.

Jason-2/OSTM, a joint NASA mission with the French space agency Centre National d´Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), launched in June 2008. The mission extended the long-term record of sea surface height measurements started by the NASA-CNES TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1 missions. Jason-2/OSTM´s 11-year lifetime well exceeded its three-year design life. These measurements are being continued by its successor, Jason-3, launched in 2016.

Since its launch, Jason-2/OSTM charted nearly 2 inches (5 centimeters) of global sea level rise, a critical measure of climate change. The mission has also resulted in the distribution of over a million data products and the publication of more than 2,100 science papers.

With the recent degradation of the spacecraft´s power system, mission partners decided to end the mission to decrease risks to other satellites and future altimetry missions, and to comply with French space law. Final decommissioning operations for Jason-2/OSTM are scheduled to be completed by CNES on Oct. 10.

The technological advancements proven on Jason-1, Jason-2/OSTM, and Jason-3 will be put to use well into future decades. Following Jason-3 will be two future Sentinel-6/Jason-CS satellites, planned for launch in 2020 and 2025.