Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Robert Cullen, European Space Research and Technology Centre, Earth Observation Project Department, Noordwijk, Netherlands and Richard Francis, ESA/ESTEC, Noordwijk, Netherlands
The Jason-CS/Sentinel-6 programme will consist of 2 spacecraft and will be the latest in a series of ocean surface topography missions that will span nearly three decades. They follow the altimeters on-board TOPEX/Poseidon through to Jason-3 (expected March 2015). Jason-CS will continue to fulfil objectives of the reference series whilst introducing a major enhancement in capability providing the operational and science oceanographic community with the state of the art in terms of platform, measurement instrumentation design thus securing optimal operational and science data return.

The programme is a part of the EC Copernicus initiative, whose objective is to support Europe’s goals regarding sustainable development and global governance of the environment by providing timely and quality data, information, services and knowledge.

The programme brings together:

ESA for development, procurement & early orbit activities;

EUMETSAT for mission management, ground segment, flight ops, contributing funding of the 1st satellite and participation in funding for the 2nd satellite;

NOAA for US payload instruments, launcher, ground stations & operations;

NASA for developing the US payload, launcher procurement and funding US science;

EU for funding the operations and participation in funding (with EUMETSAT) for the 2nd satellite;

CNES for mission expertise and provision of POD.

The consortium plan to procure 2 satellites with the 1st planned for launch readiness in the 1st half of 2020 with the 2nd satellite 5 years later.

The first major commitment to funding was given by the ESA member states that approved the programme in June 2014 and in addition the European Union funding is also secure.

The design will be based on a platform derived from CryoSat-2 but adjusted to the specific requirements of the higher orbit. The principle payload instrument is a high precision Ku/C band radar altimeter with retrieval of geophysical parameters (surface elevation, wind speed and SWH) from the altimeter data require supporting measurements: a DORIS receiver for POD; The Climate Quality Advanced Microwave Radiometer (AMR-C) provided by JPL for high stability path delay correction. Orbit tracking data are also provided by GPS & LRA.

An additional US GPS receiver, GNSS-RO, will be dedicated to radio-occultation measurements.