The Unique Role of the Jason Geodetic Missions for High Resolution Gravity Field and Mean Sea Surface Modelling

Ole Baltazar Andersen, Shengjun Zhang*, David T. Sandwell, Gerald Dibarboure, Walter H. F. Smith, Adili Abulaitijiang

*Corresponding author for this work

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The resolutions of current global altimetric gravity models and mean sea surface models are around 12 km wavelength resolving 6km features, and for many years it has been difficult to improve the resolution further in a systematic way. For both Jason 1 and 2, a Geodetic Mission (GM) has been carried out as a part of the Extension-of-Life phase. The GM for Jason-1 lasted 406 days. The GM for Jason-2 was planned to provide ground-tracks with a systematic spacing of 4 km after 2 years and potentially 2 km after 4 years. Unfortunately, the satellite ceased operation in October 2019 after 2 years of Geodetic Mission but still provided a fantastic dataset for high resolution gravity recovery. We highlight the improvement to the gravity field which has been derived from the 2 years GM. When an Extension-of-Life phase is conducted, the satellite instruments will be old. Particularly Jason-2 suffered from several safe-holds and instrument outages during the GM. This leads to systematic gaps in the data-coverage and degrades the quality of the derived gravity field. For the first time, the Jason-2 GM was “rewound” to mitigate the effect of the outages, and we evaluate the effect of “mission rewind” on gravity. With the recent successful launch of Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich (S6-MF, formerly Jason CS), we investigate the possibility creating an altimetric dataset with 2 km track spacing as this would lead to fundamental increase in the spatial resolution of global altimetric gravity fields. We investigate the effect of bisecting the ground-tracks of existing GM to create a mesh with twice the resolution rather than starting all over with a new GM. The idea explores the unique opportunity to inject Jason-3 GM into the same orbital plane as used for Jason-2 GM but bisecting the existing Jason-2 tracks. This way, the already 2-years Jason-2 GM could be used to create a 2 km grid after only 2 years of Jason-3 GM, rather than starting all over with a new GM for Jason-3.
Original languageEnglish
Article number646
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number4
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited


  • Satellite altimetry
  • Geodetic mission
  • Marine gravity
  • Mean sea surface


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