NASA satellite starts mapping oceans

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Washington, July 31 : The NASA - French space agency Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM)/Jason 2 oceanography satellite has produced its first complete maps of global ocean surface topography, surface wave height and wind speed.

The new data will help scientists monitor changes in global sea level and the distribution of heat in the ocean.

This information is used to monitor climate change and ocean circulation, and to enable more accurate weather, ocean and climate forecasts.

The data reveal patterns of sea level anomalies, which are used by scientists to calculate the speed and direction of ocean surface currents.

The new maps were generated from the first 10 days of data collected once the new satellite reached its operational orbit of 830 miles on July 4th.

OSTM/Jason 2 and its predecessor, Jason 1, now are flying in formation in the same orbit approximately 55 seconds apart, making nearly simultaneous measurements that are allowing scientists to precisely calibrate the new satellite's instruments.

Comparisons of data from the two satellites on sea-level anomalies, significant wave height and ocean wind speed all show very close correlation of all measured parameters.

"These initial observations from OSTM/Jason 2 compare very closely to those of Jason 1," said Lee-Lueng Fu, OSTM/Jason 2 project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

"To be able to collect such high-quality science data within a month of launch breaks previous records. It is also a direct reflection of how mature the field of satellite altimetry has become and of the seamless cooperation of our international team," he added.

The satellite's first radar altimeter data were acquired just 48 hours after its launch on June 20 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on a Delta II rocket.

CNES processed the first test results, followed by more advanced data results a week after launch. he more advanced results were produced after calculating the precise location of the satellite's preliminary orbits.

The satellite, its instruments and ground segment all are functioning properly. After it has been fully calibrated and validated, the satellite will begin providing oceanographic products to users around the world.

ANI

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