Under the agreement the four partners will design, develop, launch and operate a second generation altimetry satellite, Jason-2. The Jason mission is built around a series of satellites that will collect global ocean surface data on a continuous basis for several decades, extending sea level measurements gathered by TOPEX/Poseidon since 1992, and continued by Jason-1 since 2001.
Jason-2 is a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite, flying at an altitude of around 1300 km. The main instruments on board are a radar altimeter, a microwave radiometer, and several precise orbit determination systems. The aim is to measure the global sea surface height to an accuracy of a few cm every 10 days, to determine ocean circulation and sea level rise and its correlation with climate change.
Applications of the data collected by Jason-2 are in the areas marine meteorology, operational oceanography, climate monitoring and seasonal forecasting. The information on sea surface height can be assimilated into numerical ocean circulation and wave models, and in combination with in-situ measurements, provide vastly improved ocean and atmospheric forecasts, both for shorter and longer time-scales.
Acting as an interface for near-real time product distribution to European users, EUMETSAT will provide data processing and the necessary infrastructure for archiving and data distribution. The radome, the antenna and the electronic equipment constitute the Jason-2 Earth Terminal and have been successfully installed and tested in Usingen, Germany beginning of 2006.
The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites, is an intergovernmental organisation that establishes and maintains operational meteorological satellites for 19 European States (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom). EUMETSAT has signed 11 Cooperating State Agreements. Those with Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the Czech Republic have entered into force whereas the Agreements with Serbia and Montenegro and Iceland are to be ratified in the near future.
EUMETSAT is currently operating Meteosat-6, -7 and -8 over Europe and Africa, and Meteosat-5 over the Indian Ocean.
The data, product and services from EUMETSAT’s satellites make a significant contribution to weather forecasting and to the monitoring of the global climate.