NASA Mission to Answer Lingering Questions From Deep Blue Sea

Ocean tides and currents across the globe still hold within their watery grasp the key to unanswered questions about our planet.

Scientists hope the new follow-on mission to the Jason 1 and Topex/Poseidon satellite missions, equipped with the latest high-tech instruments, will bring them closer to answering broad fundamental questions: How does ocean circulation vary from season to season, from year to year and from decade to decade? How much can the ocean change from natural and human-induced causes? In what ways does the ocean impact human activities?

The answers are essential when we consider that oceans cover 70 percent of Earth’s surface. Their contents feed billions of humans and animals alike, support whole industries, and are the source of the rain and snow that feed the world’s freshwater supply. The newly launched Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason 2 is poised to help scientists answer these and other critical scientific questions about ocean phenomena.

The mission, OSTM/Jason 2 for short, is set to transform what we know about some of the prevailing weather and climate patterns driven by changes in oceanic tides and currents.