Published January 18, 2016 05:49 AM

SpaceX launches Jason-3 satellite to monitor sea levels

Jason-3, a U.S.-European oceanography satellite mission with NASA participation that will continue a nearly quarter-century record of tracking global sea level rise, lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California Sunday at 10:42 a.m. PST (1:42 p.m. EST) aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Jason-3 is an international mission led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in partnership with NASA, the French space agency CNES, and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites.

"Jason-3 will take the pulse of our changing planet by gathering environmental intelligence from the world's oceans," said Stephen Volz, assistant administrator for NOAA's Satellite and Information Service. 

The mission will improve weather, climate and ocean forecasts, including helping NOAA's National Weather Service and other global weather and environmental forecast agencies more accurately forecast the strength of tropical cyclones.

"Jason-3 is a prime example of how our nation leverages NASA's expertise in space and scientific exploration to help address critical global challenges in collaboration with NOAA and our international partners," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The measurements from Jason-3 will advance our efforts to understand Earth as an integrated system by increasing our knowledge of sea level changes and the ocean's roles in climate."

Minutes after Jason-3 separated from the rocket's second stage, the spacecraft unfolded its twin sets of solar arrays. Ground controllers successfully acquired the spacecraft's signal, and initial telemetry reports showed the satellite was in good health.

Photo shows a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the U.S.-European Jason-3 satellite launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex 4 East on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016. Jason-3, an international mission with NASA participation, will continue a 23-year record of monitoring global sea level rise. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Read more at NASA-JPL.

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