SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will attempt to deliver the Jason-3 satellite to low-Earth orbit at 18:42 UTC on January 17, 2016. If all goes as planned, the Jason-3 satellite will be deployed approximately one hour after launch. This mission also marks an experimental landing of the first stage on the SpaceX drone ship “Just Read the Instructions”.
Jason-3 is the fourth mission in a U.S.-European series of satellite missions that measure the height of the ocean surface. The mission will extend the time series of ocean surface topography measurements (the hills and valleys of the ocean surface) begun by the TOPEX/Poseidon satellite mission in 1992 and continuing through Jason-1 (launched in 2001) and the currently operating OSTM/Jason-2 (launched in 2008) missions.
It is the newest satellite in a series designed to maintain long-term satellite altimetry observations of global sea surface height. These data provide critical ocean information that forecasters need to predict devastating hurricanes and severe weather before they arrive onshore. Over the long term, Jason-3 will help track global sea level rise, an increasing threat to the resilience of coastal communities and to the health of our environment.
Webcast courtesy SpaceX
Jason-3’s highly accurate altimetry measurements will be used for a variety of scientific, commercial and operational applications, including:
- Hurricane intensity forecasting
- Surface wave forecasting for offshore operators
- Forecasting tides and currents for commercial shipping and ship routing
- Coastal forecasting for response to environmental problems like oil spills and harmful algal blooms
- Coastal modeling crucial for marine mammal and coral reef research
- El Niño and La Niña forecasting
There is a back-up launch opportunity on January 18 at 18:31 UTC.
SpaceX will deliver Jason-3 for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).
Featured image credit: SpaceX