Context: The Copernicus Sentinel-6 satellite, designed to monitor oceans, was launched from California aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket recently.

More on the news:

  • This is a part of the next mission dedicated to measuring changes in the global sea level. 
  • Other satellites that have been launched since 1992 to track changes in the oceans on a global scale include the TOPEX/Poseidon, Jason-1 and OSTN/Jason-2, among others.

About the mission:

  • Jason Continuity of Service (Jason-CS) mission: It is designed to measure the height of the ocean, which is a key component in understanding how the Earth’s climate is changing. 
  • The spacecraft consists of two satellites: One of them launched recently, and the other one called Sentinel-6B, to be launched in 2025.
  • Developed jointly by: The European Space Agency (ESA), NASA, European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat), the USA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the EU, with contributions from France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES). 
  • Significance:
    • Ensure the continuity of sea-level observations
    • Understanding how the ocean stores and distributes heat, water and carbon in the climate system.
    • Measure water vapour along this path and find its position using GPS and ground-based lasers.
    • Support operational oceanography, by providing improved forecasts of ocean currents, wind and wave conditions. 
    • Improve both short-term forecasting for weather predictions, for instance for seasonal conditions like El Niño and La Niña.

Important to measuring the height of the ocean:

  • The satellite will send pulses to the Earth’s surface and measure how long they take to return to it, which will help in measuring the sea surface height. 
  • As per NASA, this will help in monitoring critical changes in ocean currents and heat storage only from space, by measuring height of the sea surface.
  • This will in turn help in foreseeing the effects of the changing oceans on the climate.

Source: CNet