Artist concept of Jason
Artist concept of Jason
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The Jason 1 satellite, a joint project of NASA and CNES, the French space agency, arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., today to begin final preparations for launch no earlier than Sept. 15.

Jason 1 is the follow-on to Topex/Poseidon, a U.S.-French spacecraft that has been making precise measurements of ocean surface topography since 1992. These data are used to map ocean currents, improve the understanding of ocean circulation, measure global sea level change and improve global climate forecasts.

The French-built Jason 1 spacecraft was flown from Nice, France, to Vandenberg on an Antonov-124 cargo plane and then transported to a clean room at Spaceport Systems International, located on the base. After French and U.S. project members complete their final adjustments and tests, the spacecraft will be fueled and turned over to the Boeing Company on Aug. 22 in preparation for launch.

Jason 1 will be launched from Space Launch Complex 2 West at Vandenberg Air Force Base atop a Delta II rocket. The rocket has a dual payload system that allows the launch vehicle to carry two satellites at once. Jason 1 will share part of the ride with another spacecraft called Timed, a joint atmospheric mission of NASA and the Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, Md. Jason-1 will be carried at the top of the rocket's nose cone and will separate first.

The launch window is about 20 minutes each day. On Sept.15, the window opens at 12:59 a.m PDT. The launch window gets earlier by about 12 minutes each day.

Once it reaches its final orbit, Jason 1 will assume the flight path of Topex/Poseidon, which will move into a parallel orbit. They will circle Earth every 112 minutes at an altitude of about 1,330 kilometers (830 miles), measuring the surface topography of the oceans to within 4 centimeters (about 2 inches).

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

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