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NASA Space Earth

NASA Launches Satellite To Monitor Oceans 55

Posted by Soulskill
from the space-post-coast-to-coast dept.
On Friday, NASA launched the Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason 2 satellite into orbit to begin a detailed study of ocean currents, sea-surface height, and surface topology. Scientists hope to use the data gathered by Jason 2 in order to better understand weather patterns and global warming. Further details about the mission objectives (PDF) are also available. Quoting NASA's press release: "Combining ocean current and heat storage data is key to understanding global climate variations. OSTM/Jason 2's expected lifetime of at least three years will extend into the next decade the continuous record of these data started in 1992 by NASA and the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, or CNES, with the TOPEX/Poseidon mission. The data collection was continued by the two agencies on Jason 1 in 2001. Compared with Jason 1 measurements, OSTM/Jason 2 will have substantially increased accuracy and provide data to within 25 kilometers (15 miles) of coastlines, nearly 50 percent closer to shore than in the past."
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NASA Launches Satellite To Monitor Oceans

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  • Really? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Corpuscavernosa (996139) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @12:38PM (#23895609)

    OSTM/Jason 2 will have substantially increased accuracy and provide data to within 25 kilometers (15 miles) of coastlines, nearly 50 percent closer to shore than in the past

    Ok I'm really not trolling here and I'm sure I'm exposing my vast ignorance on this topic, but does this seem incredibly underwhelming to anyone else?

    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by owlnation (858981) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @12:55PM (#23895747)
      Not underwhelming in the slightest. It just shows you how very little we understand about the Earth, how little we understand about weather, and also ocean currents. One day this information WILL save many, many lives. It's much more valuable than a whole multitude of other projects.
      • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by value_added (719364) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @01:24PM (#23896041)

        Not underwhelming in the slightest. It just shows you how very little we understand about the Earth, how little we understand about weather, and also ocean currents.

        Agreed, but there's a greater irony. While travel and research above and beyond earth has done wonders to increase our understanding of our own world, what's left undiscovered and unstudied is what lies beneath our oceans. Studying ocean currents and topology is literally superficial in that regard.

        • Which is funny, because we know, for instance, that among the many conditions that cause hurricane formation, one of the biggest and least understood is ocean currents.

          Imagine if we could predict category 5 hurricanes weeks or months in advance. How many lives would have been spared in the aftermath of Katrina and Rita?

          • Imagine if we could predict category 5 hurricanes weeks or months in advance. How many lives would have been spared in the aftermath of Katrina and Rita?

            Not many. Katrina was the result of a long-term failure to take the hurricane threat to New Orleans seriously. I doubt a few weeks' warning would have significantly changed the result.

            Rita only caused 7 direct deaths. More lead time would have kept elderly Houstonians from dying while stuck in evacuation traffic. Although that doesn't help if your bus catches fire in Dallas (23 of the 113 indirect deaths).

            And both were only Category 3 hurricanes at landfall.

    • by FurtiveGlancer (1274746) <AdHocTechGuy@[ ].com ['aol' in gap]> on Sunday June 22, 2008 @01:12PM (#23895927) Journal
      And the number of diverse projects they are pursuing, it's actually quite an accomplishment. Not very exciting to most, but still an accomplishment.
    • by maxume (22995)

      What kind of data are you able to gather without the satellite?

      You are reacting like someone who gets handed a check for 6 gajillion dollars and says "How come the check isn't for 100 gajillion dollars?" without even having any idea of what a gajillion is.

    • by khayman80 (824400)
      I believe this 25 km data gap is due to the radar "footprint". JASON uses a radar system to determine the distance from the satellite to the height of the ocean surface averaged over an area below the satellite. Then the folks at NASA use tracking data to determine where the satellite is to within an accuracy of ~1cm (don't know about the new system's positional accuracy) and that's where the sea level estimate comes from.

      The data gap next to the shoreline is due to the fact that the radar beam spreads

  • I was surprised by the lack of comments on this thread, but then I thought 'Its a satellite that watches the ocean all day and stuff.' Kinda hard to get excited over.

  • by eln (21727) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @12:54PM (#23895737) Homepage

    First the government wants to monitor citizens, and now it wants to monitor the oceans? Come on people, I know most of you don't care because you're not an ocean, but what happens when they start going after the other bodies of water? What about other liquids? Other states of matter? This is just the tip of the iceberg, people.

    Oh sure, maybe you think it's fine because the oceans aren't U.S. citizens, but I say constitutional rights should apply to all of Earth's features, and the government should keep its nose out of aquatic affairs. Just because some oceans border terrorist states (through no fault of their own), that doesn't mean all oceans can just be spied on whenever we feel like it.

    Maybe you think this is okay because some oceans have committed terrorist acts like hurricanes and tsunamis, but it would be bigoted of us to condemn all oceans for the actions of a few.

    This has gotten out of hand and needs to stop. Get involved, people!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by moosesocks (264553)

      You forgot the obligatory Ron Paul mention...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Chees0rz (1194661)
      Well, if the oceans have nothing to hide...
    • by jonadab (583620)
      > Maybe you think this is okay because some oceans have committed terrorist acts like hurricanes
      > and tsunamis, but it would be bigoted of us to condemn all oceans for the actions of a few.

      Would it be alright if they only do surveillance on the oceans that *are* known to have been responsible for hurricanes, tsunamis, floods, and icebergs that sink ships?
    • by T3Tech (1306739)
      You would think the PETA, Greenpeace, et.al. people would be all over this. Just think of all the whales, dolphins and other marine life that will have their privacy invaded by this seemingly innocent "monitoring the oceans" nonsense.

      The oceans are their home and it's not like water is opaque or anything. Sure the octopus, squid and their relatives can squirt ink to gain a little privacy, but what about the whales? Where can they really go to be free of this kind of intrusion?
  • by kentrel (526003) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @12:58PM (#23895789) Journal
    First they watch the fishes, then its an easy next step to start watching us. This is a slippery slope. More proof scientists are evildoers.
    • by Macrat (638047)
      Wait until they catch the first Terrorist Tuna!!!
    • Wrong quote (Score:2, Funny)

      by Mathinker (909784)

      When the scientists came for the tuna,
      I remained silent;
      I was not a tuna.

      When they locked up the dolphins in SeaWorld,
      I remained silent;
      I was not a dolphin.

      When they came for the trade currents,
      I did not speak out;
      I was not a trade current.

      When they came for me,
      the oceans were silent,
      there was no one left to speak out.

  • by capnkr (1153623) on Sunday June 22, 2008 @01:07PM (#23895871)
    ...this is interesting, to say the least.

    The topic of "rogue waves" has gotten much [slashdot.org] more [technologyreview.com] interest in the past few years. They have been determined to be both larger and more prevalent than thought before. Perhaps Jason will complement the data from the EU mission to help with statistics, and maybe even predictions...

    One can hope. :)
  • Does this mean they will find out about our drug boats?
  • What is not really mentioned is that Jason2 is a joint program between: CNES (Centre National d'Ãtudes Spatiales) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CNES [wikipedia.org] NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NASA [wikipedia.org] Eumetsat (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eumetsat [wikipedia.org] NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NOAA [wikipedia.org] CNES and NASA are involved for the launch period and afte

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