History of Altimetry, 1960–1992
Robert Stewart(1) and Michel Lefevre(2)
Texas A&M University,
College Station TX 77843-3146,
(2) 8, Ave. de Cugnaux, 31270 Villeneuve, Tolosane, France
We will review the history of the various strands leading to the successful development of the Topex/Poseidon altimeter mission, the first of a series of satellite altimeter missions jointly developed by CNES and NASA. The strands include: 1) The development of altimeter technology through a series of missions–Skylab, GEOS-3, and Seasat. 2) The ability to calculate accurate satellite ephemerides by groups at the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales Precise Orbit Determination Department, Toulouse; University of Texas Center for Space Research; and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Geodynamics Branch. 3) An understanding of the influence of the ocean surface and the atmosphere on the altimeter signal. And, 4) The political decisions in France and the USA leading to funding of the mission, including the role of 1) national space policies and the development of a Memorandum of Understanding that led to a long-term relationship between CNES and NASA, 2) the Topex Science Working Group, 3) the Topex/Poseidon Science Definition Team, 4) the Topex/Poseidon Science Working Team, 5) the World Ocean Circulation Experiment/World Climate Research Program, and 6) the Earth System Science Committee.