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Jason-1 celebrates 10 years of space-based altimetry

06 December 2011

A joint CNES-NASA program, with Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor

Cannes, December 6, 2011 -- Thales Alenia Space joins French space agency CNES and NASA of the United States to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Jason-1 satellite launched on December 7, 2001. Thales Alenia Space originally teamed up with French Space Agency CNES to develop the technology for the Poseidon spaceborne altimeter, and tested on the Topex satellite as early as 1992, marking a real revolution in oceanography. The accuracy of the measurements delivered by this high-precision instrument demonstrated the thermohaline circulation (movement of currents) in the oceans, a major energy engine governing the global climate, as well as the rise in sea levels due to global warming.

Jason-1 was fitted with a follow-on Poseidon 2 instrument, enabling it to ensure the continuity of these measurements and deploy a real operational oceanographic monitoring system in conjunction with weather forecasting agencies Eumetsat in Europe and NOAA in the United States.

Originally designed for a service life of three years, Jason-1 is still in operation ten years after launch. Thales Alenia Space was prime contractor for the Jason system and its main instrument. It also built the Jason-2 satellite, launched in 2008, and is developing the Jason-3 satellite for launch in 2014.

Because of Thales Alenia Space's outstanding development and production experience in spaceborne altimetry, the company was also chosen to build the main instruments on other satellites from around the world: Cryosat and Sentinel 3 for ESA, GFO-2 for the U.S. Navy, GEO-IKP for Russia, Saral for France and India, and CFOSat for France and China.

The launch of Jason-1 was also the first flight of the Proteus platform, developed by Thales Alenia Space with CNES, and subsequently used with great success on several CNES missions in partnership with NASA and ESA: Calipso (to study aerosols in the atmosphere), Corot (search for exoplanets), SMOS (ocean salinity and soil humidity) … and of course on Jason-2 and -3.

"Jason and Poseidon clearly illustrate Thales Alenia Space's long-standing commitment to environmental monitoring, starting with Meteosat 1 back in the 1970s," said Reynald Seznec, CEO of Thales Alenia Space. "We have made unflagging investments in this sector, as reflected in our achievements, whether the instruments carried on missions like Envisat and MetOp, or as prime contractor on ambitious missions such as GOCE and Sentinel 1. Today, we are developing the third generation of Meteosat weather satellites, and we are also studying solutions that will help us better evaluate the multifaceted challenge of global warming and define the responsible policies needed to address this challenge."

About Thales Alenia Space
The European leader in satellite systems and a major player in orbital infrastructures, Thales Alenia Space is a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%). Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio embody the two groups’ “Space Alliance”. Thales Alenia Space sets the global standard in solutions for space telecommunications, radar and optical Earth observation, defense and security, navigation and science. With consolidated revenues of 2 billion euros in 2010, Thales Alenia Space has 7,200 employees at 10 industrial sites in France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Belgium.

Thales Alenia Space Press Contact
Sandrine Bielecki - Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 70 94

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