[Via Satellite 12-05-2014] The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected Airbus Defence and Space as the prime contractor for the Jason CS/Sentinel 6 Earth observation satellite. Thales Alenia Space France is providing the satellite’s main instrument, a radar altimeter that will measure global sea levels with accuracy within a few centimeters. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is also providing instruments.
The one-ton satellite will orbit at an altitude of 1,300 kilometers, repeatedly mapping ocean topography on a global basis starting in 2020. Eumetsat will manage the satellite, which is part of the Copernicus Earth observation program, for its five-and-a-half-year mission. Sentinel 6 will leverage technologies and skills gained from the CryoSat program, which also used a radar altimeter on CryoSat 2, launched in 2010.