A joint US-Europe satellite mission, which measured sea level rise for 11 years, ends due to a wreck of the spacecraft's power system, officials said Friday.
The Jason 2 satellite was scheduled to be operational for three to five years, but survived its lifetime and continued to collect accurate sea level measurements by launching a replacement spacecraft – Jason 3 – in January 2016.
During his 11-year mission, Jason 2 recorded nearly 2 centimeters (5 centimeters) of global sea level rise, observational scientists explain the rise in average global temperatures.
"Today we celebrate the end of this hugely successful international mission," said Thomas Zurbbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "Jason-2 / OSTM has provided a unique understanding of the ocean currents and sea level rise with significant benefits for sea forecasting, meteorology and our understanding of climate change."
Ground commands noticed signs of aging on the Jason 2 satellite in 2017, and officials ordered dispatchers at NOAA's Maryland Satellite Operations Center to command the spacecraft to move from its original 830 miles (1336 kilometers) to orbit. from other operational missions.
Jason 2 also depleted excess fuel reserves in 2017, but the satellite continued to collect scientific data. Lower orbit meant that measurements of the same location in the Jason 2 ocean were rarer, but the resolution of the data improved, allowing scientists to conduct marine gravity and map the seafloor topography.
The Jason 2 satellite, also called the Oceanic Topography Mission, was launched on June 20 aboard the Landing 2 Missile from the Wendenberg Air Force Base, California.
Jason 2 is a joint mission developed and funded by NASA, NOAA, the French space agency CNES and Eumetsat, which owns and manages European weather satellites.