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Thales Alenia Space to built Jason-3 operational oceanographic satellite


Cannes - Thales Alenia Space announced to have signed with French Space Agency (CNES), the contract to build the Jason-3 satellite.

The Jason-3 operational oceanographic mission involves a quadripartite collaboration between the two meteorological organizations Eumetsat and NOAA, acting as the leaders of the program, and CNES and its American counterpart NASA.

Jason-3 will allow the continuity of high precision ocean topography measurements beyond TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1 and Jason-2, which are now operational in orbit. It will also provide a bridge to an operational mission to enable the continuation of multi-decadal ocean topography measurements. Jason 3 will offer the same ocean measurement accuracy as Jason 2, including near coastal zones, as well as lakes and rivers.

Based on the Proteus platform, Jason-3 features the Poseidon-3B altimeter, also developed by Thales Alenia Space in Toulouse. The Poseidon-3B dual-frequency altimeter continues to be the key instrument in this spaceborne observation programme. Included in the core mission, Jason-3 will embark the DORIS precise orbit determination system, an Advanced Microwave Radiometer (AMR), a GPS payload (GPSP), and a Laser Retro-reflector Array (LRA).

The satellite will be placed in the same orbit as Jason-2, at an altitude of 1,336 kilometres with an inclination of 66 degrees, to provide virtually blanket coverage of all ice-free ocean surfaces. Its weight at launch is 553 kilogrammes, with 550 W of power and pointing accuracy of 0.15° (half-cone). Its launch is expected for mid 2013 for a mission life of 3 years.

Thales Alenia Space is Europe’s leader in climate change monitoring and is at the heart of environmental initiatives. The company, as a key player, has helped oceanography to become operational. The huge system of surface and deep-water currents drives massive exchanges of heat and energy through all the oceans of the planet and can be considered as one of the main engines of Earth’s climate. Poseidon altimeters played a key role in the depiction and understanding of this phenomenon.

The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity (SMOS) mission, built by Thales Alenia Space and launched in November 2009, will provide regular maps of sea surface salinity, showing where and when large amounts of fresh waters are introduced in the cycle, for instance through rains, about 90% of which are estimated to fall over open sea.

To complete the global understanding of the water cycle, CryoSat, will feature a unique instrument, the Siral interferometry radar altimeter - to monitor the thickness of sea ice and ice shelf’s.

Through GMES and the Sentinel satellites program, Thales Alenia Space is already working on the next generation of satellites that will continue monitoring the water cycle at a global scale. For more than 20 years, Thales Alenia Space has been in the forefront of efforts to meet major environmental challenges, whether meteorological or oceanographic. The company is also a worldwide leader in high-performance optical and radar payloads, for civil and military use.

About Thales Alenia Space
European leader in satellite systems and a major player in orbital infrastructures, Thales Alenia Space is a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%). Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio embody the two groups’ “Space Alliance”. Thales Alenia Space sets the global standard in solutions for space telecoms, radar and optical Earth observation, defense and security, navigation and science. The company, which achieved revenues of Euro 2 billion in 2008, has a total of 7,200 employees located in 11 industrial sites in France, Italy, Spain and Belgium.


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