NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) will join forces to launch new satellites this year to monitor sea level rise and other ocean changes on Earth, SpaceNetwork reported. The project, called Sentinel-6/Jason Continuity of Service, is scheduled to start in November and will be the longest-running Earth observation mission to study sea level rise. The spacecraft will provide the most sensitive water level measurements, revealing details of sea level rise and helping to create nearly 40 years of sea level records.
The S6 is an extension of previous Jason-1, Jason-2, and Jason-3 missions that measure sea level rise over the past 30 years. They provide results showing that the Earth’s sea level rose by an average of 3 mm in the 1990s, and by now it has risen by 3.4 millimetres.
S6 will continue to study sea level rise using two identical satellites, Sentinel-6A and Sentinel-6B, and will also focus on changes in climate patterns such as ocean circulation, El Ni?o and La Ni?a, and hurricanes and storms.
The Sentinel-6A will be launched this year from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with a Falcon 9 rocket, and Sentinel-6B is scheduled to depart in 2025.
The spacecraft will stay 1,300 kilometers above Earth, send pulses to the Earth’s surface and measure the time it takes for them to return to the satellite, a process that measures how much water vapor there is along the way. At the same time, the spacecraft will use GPS and ground-based lasers, as well as a special network to locate itself, the entire system will measure ocean height with an accuracy of about an inch.
S6 will collect global ocean data every 10 days to provide information on large ocean events such as El Ni?o. Unlike its predecessors, the spacecraft also has an insight into smaller marine features, such as complex currents, benefiting the shipping and fishing industries.
“In a sense, global sea level is the most complete measure of how humans can change their climate,” said Josh Willis of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a scientist on the project. Studies have shown that sea levels have been rising at an accelerated rate over the past 25 years, and that global sea level rise is one of the most expensive and damaging effects of climate change. “