NASA Ocean Monitoring Mission Ends After 11 Years

Data will still be gathered by the satellite's successor.
Chris Young
NASA satelliteNASA/JPL-Caltech

The Jason-2/Ocean Surface Topography Mission (OSTM), a satellite mission aimed at measuring sea surface height, successfully ended its mission on 1 October.

NASA and other partners decided to terminate the mission when they detected deterioration of the spacecraft's power system.

It marks the end of a mission that has provided a great amount of data to climate scientists.


End of an era

The recently discovered degradation of the Jason-2/OSTM satellite's power system means the satellite could eventually become a risk to other satellites and future altimetry missions, a NASA statement says.

Final decommissioning operations are set to begin on 10 October.

Jason-2/OSTM is 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). It was launched back in June 2008.

NASA will continue to take sea surface height measurements with the Jason-2/OSTM satellite successor, Jason-3, which was launched in 2016.

Charting climate change

"Today we celebrate the end of this resoundingly successful international mission," Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, said in the NASA statement.

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“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.”

Since launch, the Jason-2/OSTM data showed that sea levels rose nearly 2 inches (5 centimeters). This was a key finding in climate change science. The mission has led to the publication of more than 2,100 scientific papers.

"Jason-2/OSTM was a high point of operational satellite oceanography as the first Jason mission to formally include EUMETSAT and NOAA as partners," said Steve Volz, assistant administrator of NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service.