Template:Infobox spaceflight

Jason-3 is an international Earth observation satellite mission that continues the ocean surface height measurements begun in 1992 by the TOPEX/Poseidon mission, followed by Jason-1 launched in 2001 and Jason-2 in 2008.[1] Jason-3 is the result of a four-agency international partnership consisting of NOAA, NASA, the French Space Agency CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales), and EUMETSAT (the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites). The spacecraft was built by Thales Alenia Space and launched by SpaceX on the 21st Falcon 9 flight.

Science objectivesEdit

The science objectives for Jason-3 are:[citation needed]

  • Extend the time series of ocean surface topography measurements beyond TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1 to accomplish two decades of observations
  • Provide a minimum of three years of global ocean surface topography measurement
  • Determine the variability of ocean circulation at decadal time scales from combined data record of TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1
  • Improve the measure of the time-averaged ocean circulation
  • Improve the measure of global sea-level change
  • Improve open ocean tide models


The satellite was built around a Proteus satellite bus by Thales Alenia Space under contract from CNES. A pair of deployable, tracking solar arrays supply a total of 580 watts of power. Four hydrazine monopropellant thrusters are used for orbital maneuvering. Attitude control is provided by reaction wheels, with magnetorquers used to periodically despin the wheels.[2] Jason-3 weighed about Template:Cvt at launch, with a dry mass of Template:Cvt.[3]


Jason-3 carries five main instruments. The primary instrument is the Poseidon-3B Altimeter, which is derived from the Poseidon-3 carried on Jason-2. The other main instruments are Doppler Orbitography and Radiopositioning Integrated by Satellite (DORIS), Advanced Microwave Radiometer-2 (AMR-2), Global Positioning System Payload (GPSP), and Laser Retroreflector Array (LRA). Two additional "passenger instruments" are carried as part of the Joint Radiation Experiment. These are CARMEN-3 (Characterization and Modeling of Environment), which measures charged particle flux, and Light Particle Telescope (LPT), which measures radiation and charged particles.[4]


Jason-3 Rollout (24038722499) (2)

Falcon 9 rolling out on 15 January 2015.

Appearing on the SpaceX manifest as early as July 2013,[5] Jason-3 was originally scheduled for launch on July 22, 2015. However, this date was pushed back to August 19 following the discovery of contamination in one of the satellite's thrusters, requiring the thruster to be replaced and further inspected.[6][7] The launch was further delayed by several months due to the loss of a Falcon 9 rocket with the CRS-7 mission on June 28.[8]

After SpaceX conducted their return-to-flight mission in December 2015 with the upgraded Falcon 9 Full Thrust, Jason-3 was assigned to the final Falcon 9 v1.1 previous-generation rocket, although some parts of the rocket body had been reworked following the findings of the failure investigation.[9][10]

A 7-second static fire test of the rocket was completed on 11 January 2016.[11] The Launch Readiness Review was signed off by all parties on 15 January 2015 and the launch proceeded successfully on January 17, 2016 at 18:42 UTC. The Jason-3 payload was deployed into its target orbit at 830 miles (Template:Convert/round km) altitude after an orbital insertion burn about 56 minutes into the flight.[12] It was the 21st Falcon 9 flight overall[9] and the second into a high-inclination orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base Space Launch Complex 4E in California.[6]

Post-mission landing testEdit

Main article: Falcon 9 first-stage landing tests
First stage of Jason-3 rocket (24423604506)

First stage of Falcon 9 Flight 21 descending over the floating landing platform, 17 January 2016

Following paperwork filed with US regulatory authorities in 2015,[13] SpaceX confirmed in January that they would attempt a controlled-descent flight test and vertical landing of the rocket's first stage on their west-coast floating platform Just Read the Instructions,[14] located about 200 miles (Template:Convert/round km) out in the Pacific Ocean.

This attempt followed the first successful landing and booster recovery on the previous launch in December 2015.[15][16] The controlled descent through the atmosphere and landing attempt for each booster is an arrangement that is not used on other orbital launch vehicles.[17]

Approximately 9 minutes into the flight, the live video feed from the drone ship went down due to the losing its lock on the uplink satellite. Elon Musk later reported that the first stage did touch down smoothly on the ship, but a lockout on one of the four landing legs failed to latch, so that the booster fell over and was destroyed.[18][19][20]

Debris from the fire, including several rocket engines attached to the octaweb assembly, arrived back to shore on board the floating landing platform on 18 January 2016.[21]

See alsoEdit


  1. "What is Jason-3?". NOAA. 
  2. "Jason-3 Spacecraft & Instruments". Spaceflight 101. 
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named wmo-sat
  4. "Spacecraft". NOAA. 
  5. "Launch Manifest - Future Missions". SpaceX. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Template:Cite news
  7. Template:Cite news
  8. "CRS-7 Investigation Update". SpaceX. 2015-07-20. Retrieved 21 July 2015. "Our investigation is ongoing until we exonerate all other aspects of the vehicle, but at this time, we expect to return to flight this fall and fly all the customers we intended to fly in 2015 by end of year." 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Template:Cite news
  10. Gebhardt, Chris (8 January 2016). "SpaceX Falcon 9 v1.1 conducts static fire test ahead of Jason-3 mission". 
  11. Curie, Mike (11 January 2016). "SpaceX Falcon 9 Static Fire Complete for Jason-3". NASA. "At Space Launch Complex 4 on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the static test fire of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for the upcoming Jason-3 launch was completed Monday at 5:35 p.m. PST, 8:35 p.m. EST. The first stage engines fired for the planned full duration of 7 seconds." 
  12. Template:Cite AV media
  13. "OET Special Temporary Authority Report".,. 
  14. Template:Cite news
  15. "SpaceX ORBCOMM-2 Mission". press kit. SpaceX. December 21, 2015. Retrieved December 21, 2015. "This mission also marks SpaceX’s return-to-flight as well as its first attempt to land a first stage on land. The landing of the first stage is a secondary test objective." 
  16. Template:Cite news
  17. Template:Cite news
  18. Template:Cite AV media
  19. Template:Cite news
  20. Musk, Elon (17 January 2016). "Flight 21 landing and breaking a leg". Instagram. 
  21. Template:Cite news

External linksEdit

About the satelliteEdit

About the flightEdit

Template:Space-based meteorological observation

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