Oceanography as viewed from space

Essay by muddy January 2005

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Oceanography as Viewed from Space Introduction At first thought, studying the oceans from space seems to be a bizarre idea. Space observation helps oceanographers do research with manned and unmanned space systems. The space systems can be satellites and/or space shuttles that observe various features of the ocean such as sea-surface winds, sea-surface temperatures, waves, ocean currents, frontal regions, and sea color. Technological advances have greatly improved the ability of oceanographers to gather and use information that is received. Oceanography as viewed from space has and will become more and more valuable as we begin to understand more of the world's oceans. Projects Space oceanography uses a number of different sciences to research the oceans that include physics, geology, biology, chemistry, and engineering (Cracknell 13). This is evident in the projects that send satellites into space for observation of our oceans. In 1992, the Topex/Poseidon project was launched to observe the interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere (Cracknell 17).

The Topex/Poseidon mission is to gather information about sea level heights and ocean currents (Cracknell 17). The Topex/Poseidon orbits above the earth at 840 miles and has a 10-day repeating cycle in which it takes pictures of all of the earth (Cracknell 17). Information about the how the sea level changes can tell scientists that there are changes in ocean currents and in climate patterns (Cracknell 25). This information is valuable to both oceanographers and meteorologists because it gives information about the phenomena, El Nino. Figure 1 is a picture of how the Topex/Poseidon works. Figure 1(NASA) The Topex/Poseidon receives information as to what it is supposed to do from a beacon on earth. The satellite then gathers the information it is supposed to gather and then sends it to the beacon on earth. The beacon on earth processes this...