The Jason-3 mission is planned as a follow-on mission to the Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason-2, to continue the
core satellite altimetry measurements for physical oceanography. In addition, a key long-term vision of the founders of this
measurement will come to reality: the transitioning from research to operational applications of this valuable measurement.
Jason-3 builds upon the heritage of foundational and transitional missions such as SEASAT (1978), GEOSAT (1985),
TOPEX/Poseidon (T/P, 1992), Jason-1 (2001) and OSTM/Jason-2 (2008), which have led to the understanding and
development of a wide range of oceanographic applications of satellite altimetry.
With the successful development and operation of the TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1 missions, the Franco-American
cooperation in ocean altimetry has grown with a steady vision of expanding this measurement towards operational
applications. As such, the T/P and Jason-1 missions were developed by NASA and CNES, and subsequently NOAA and
EUMETSAT have taken on key partnership roles by providing mission operations services for the OSTM/Jason-2 project.
For Jason-3, NOAA and EUMETSAT are the lead agencies with CNES and NASA as key partners providing mission
With a planned project start in early 2010 and a launch target of mid-2013, Jason-3 is planned as a recurring mission from
OSTM/Jason-2 to minimize satellite development risk as well as to ensure the continuity of measurements after
OSTM/Jason-2. The Jason-3 satellite is planned to operate at the same 1336 km, 66 deg. inclination reference orbit with
essentially the same on-board instrumentation as OSTM/Jason-2. The instrument suite will consist of a dual-frequency
Nadir Altimeter, a Microwave Radiometer, and three Precision Orbit Determination instruments (Global Positioning
System - GPS, Doppler Orbitography and Radio-positioning Integrated by Satellite -DORIS, and Laser Retroreflector Array
Fulfilling the goals of moving satellite altimetry onto routine operations will require a close cooperation and coordination of
international, multi-agency mission managers, designers, engineers, scientists and operational systems developers. This
paper presents the Jason-3 mission formulation and development plans, and highlights the key aspects of making this multidimensional
project move towards reality.