Artist concept of Jason

The French space agency honored members of the U.S. French TOPEX/Poseidon team today by awarding them the CNES Medal in recognition of their achievements. The Centre Nationale d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) awards the medal periodically in recognition of a successful project.

CNES General Director Jean-Daniel Levi presented the award to seven team members from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory as well as from NASA Headquarters and the CNES project office. They included Dr. Lee-Leung Fu, JPL project scientist; W. Linwood Jones, KSC, former NASA program manager; Dr. Michel Lefebvre, CNES project scientist; Dr. William Patzert, JPL, former program scientist; William Townsend, deputy associate administrator, Office of Mission to Planet Earth, and former NASA program manager; Dr. W. Stanley Wilson, assistant administrator, National Ocean Service, former NASA program scientist; and Charles Yamarone, JPL project manager.

Launched Aug. 10, 1992, TOPEX/Poseidon is studying the topography of the oceans, providing scientists with the data they need to better understand how ocean circulation distributes heat around the Earth and how the oceans affect climate.

In two years the satellite has completed 9,350 orbits and 69 10-day science data-gathering, collecting more than 1 trillion bits of data. The satellite is measuring sea level to an accuracy of 5.7 centimeters (2.2 inches), and those data have been distributed to the international science team for their analysis.

TOPEX/Poseidon is the first mission to provide such precise and accurate observations of sea level, allowing scientists to study complex global ocean dynamics. Eventually, scientists will use the data to help them determine how ocean currents contribute to world-wide climate change. The resurgence of the El Ni┬Ło phenomenon in the equatorial Pacific in the spring of 1993 is just one example of the wide range of studies conducted by TOPEX/Poseidon mission scientists.

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