Europe has approved the development of a new spacecraft to continue monitoring the rise in the world's oceans.
The transatlantic Jason-3 Programme has now been approved by Eumetsat member states, building on the work done by the Jason-2 satellite in meteorology, operational oceanography and in particular the monitoring of sea level trends - which have shown an average global annual sea level rise through the last 15 years of 3.3 millimeters.
Nineteen member states have said they are prepared to contribute €63.6 million to the €252 million programme cost of Jason-3.
Eumetsat director-general Dr Lars Prahm, welcomed the decision. "The fact that nearly 80 per cent of EUMETSAT members, including all its largest Member States, are participating shows the importance they attach to continuing the mission begun so successfully by Jason-2 and that the solidarity among EUMETSAT Member States continues to prevail," he said.
The Jason-3 programme is led by Eumetsat and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NOAA had already promised funding of €100 million.
In addition, the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the French space agency, has promised to act as system coordinator, and to make available the Jason-3 Proteus satellite platform, its facilities and associated human resources.
Meanwhile, NASA will support science team activities, including the satellite launch, provision of instruments and operations support.