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Jason-2 April 21, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Science, Space.

Everybody else had been writing about Venus and the ESA's sucessful orbital insertion of its Venus Express orbiter. Anyone who wasn't is writing about LCRSS, NASA's plan to slam an impactor into a lunar crater on the moons southern polar region to analyze the ejecta for water.

So this post is just going to avoid those topics, space news is kind of slow right now anyway but you can read about them elsewhere in great depth, just try a few of the blogs in the Space Blogroll or even the ESA link in the Space Links section on the sidebar.

Instead I am going to write about Jason. Macabre deaths and murderous rampages, not really. That's not the Jason I want to talk about.

Actually, Jason is an ocean surface topography mission whose "primary three-year mission [was] to measure the surface height of the worlds' oceans. Launched in December 2001, Jason [is now on an] extended mission to continue collecting detailed sea-surface topography data."

NASA announced, the other day, that they have signed on for a follow on mission to Jason, aptly named Jason-2.

NASA says the three to five year mission "will increase our understanding of ocean circulation and improve climate forecasts and measurements of global sea-level change."

This mission is important because global sea levels help us understand broader changes in global climate. And the global warming non-debate lately has implied that dramatic climate change may already be on the march. Just look at the rate of glacial recession, worldwide:

Apr. 4, 2006-BBC-Major melt for Alpine glaciers
Apr. 6, 2006-WEBBOLT-Research Council of Norway Predicts Norwegian Glaciers Could Melt Completely
Mar. 27, 2006-AP-Mount Hood glaciers melting
Mar. 31, 2006-New Scientist-Quakes show glaciers are melting fast
Mar. 23, 2006-ABC News-World's glaciers rapidly melting

Look, you can naysay all you want. It won't change the facts of these circumstances. Global temperature is rising, sea levels are rising. Now is the time to do something, not thirty years from now. How stupid can humans be? Are we truly this nearsighted at the highest levels?

Jason-2 is one of a number of great NASA mission designed to monitor the Earth. This agency is one of the least funded government agencies that exist. They are truly doing some great work with what dismal funding they are given.


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