“Scary Data” –NASA’s Sentinel 6A Mission Monitors Rising Sea Levels Reshaping the Surface of Our Planet (WATCH Video)


"As human-caused global warming drives sea levels higher and higher, we are literally reshaping the surface of our planet," said Josh Willis, NASA project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "These missions tell us how much and how fast."


NASA has announced it has partnered with SpaceX for the Sentinel-6A mission scheduled for November 2020, which will continue NASA's study of sea level rise continue through 2027. The mission will send up the first of two identical satellites on top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida that will record how sea levels are rising from space, using radar altimetry and to collect “high-resolution vertical profiles of temperature” of ocean waters.

The satellite is called JASON-CS-A, or the “Joint Altimetry Satellite Oceanography Network-Continuity of Service,” and it will circle the Earth from 2020 to 2027. A second satellite, memorably named JASON-CS-B, will go up in 2026 and work until 2033, doing much of the same work.

The mission follows on the heels of Jason-3, a U.S.-European oceanography satellite mission with NASA participation that will continue a nearly quarter-century record of "taking the pulse of our changing planet by gathering environmental intelligence from the world's oceans," said Stephen Volz, assistant administrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Service. The measurements from Jason-3 will advance our efforts to understand Earth as an integrated system by increasing our knowledge of sea level changes and the ocean's roles in climate by precisely measuring the height of 95 percent of the world's ice-free ocean every 10 days.




Jason-3 was an international mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in partnership with NASA, the French space agency CNES, and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.

Coordinating orbits and combining measurements from Jason-2 and Jason-3 should allow even more frequent coverage of the global ocean. Together, the two spacecraft will double global data coverage. This tandem mission will improve our knowledge of tides in coastal and shallow seas and internal tides in the open ocean, while improving our understanding of ocean currents and eddies.



Measurements of sea-surface height, or ocean-surface topography, reveals the speed and direction of ocean currents and tell scientists how much of the sun's energy is stored by the ocean. Combining ocean current and heat storage data is key to understanding global climate changes.

Since the Topex/Poseidon-Jason satellite missions began in 1992, researchers have observed a total global sea level rise of 2.8 inches (70 millimeters) – an average rate of 0.12 inches (3 millimeters) a year. Because it is a measure of both ocean warming and loss of land ice, sea level rise is an important indicator of human-caused climate change.

The Daily Galaxy via NASA Sentinel 6A  and NASA/JPL  

Image Credit top of page With thanks to Maria Stensel/National Geographic Creative


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