Ocean Physics at NASA
Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Data Publicly Available
Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich has entered routine operations. All science data are now available to the public.
COWVR to launch December 21st
COWVR will measure ocean vector winds on the International Space Station, which can help improve weather forecasting.
NASA PO at COP26
NASA PO is giving several talks at COP26 on sea level and climate change.
S-MODE records giant waves during “bomb cyclone”
S-MODE measured 11m (36ft) waves during the “bomb cyclone” event that hit northern California October 24, 2021.
ECCO Used in Announcement of Nobel Prize for Physics
The “Perpetual Ocean” visualization, that uses ECCO derived ocean currents, was part of the 2021 Nobel Prize for Physics announcement.
Jump to: About | Science and Research | Missions | Data | Partnerships | Contacts
The ocean plays a fundamental role in the Earth’s system. It shapes our planet’s climate and weather by absorbing, storing, and transporting large quantities of heat, water, moisture, and carbon dioxide. NASA’s Physical Oceanography (PO) program enables research that advances our understanding of the ocean’s role in climate. Our scientists utilize NASA satellite and sub-orbital data, climate models and data science to study ocean dynamics, sea level rise, hydrological cycle, and ocean interactions within the Earth system.
To join us and become a NASA scientist, apply to one of current NASA research opportunities.
Science and Research
NASA’s Physical Oceanography program directs multiple competitively-selected NASA’s Science Teams that study the physics of the oceans. Below are details about each science team.
Sea Level Change (N-SLCT)
Ocean Surface Topography (OSTST)
Ocean Surface Salinity (OSST)
Ocean Vector Winds (OVWST)
Sea Surface Temperature (SST)
PO program provides scientific leadership on the following missions:
Currently taking measurements
Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich/Jason-CS
Sub-Mesoscale Ocean Dynamics Experiment (S-MODE)
Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP)
Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG)
Compact Ocean Wind Vector Radiometer (COWVR)
Salinity And Stratification at the Sea Ice Edge (SASSIE)
Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT)
Past missions providing data for current research
2012-2013 & 2016-2017
Access the Data
The Physical Oceanography Distributed Active Archive Center (PO.DAAC) preserves NASA's ocean and climate open data and makes these universally accessible and meaningful.
PO program actively engages in the following national and international partnerships that work together to sustain and enhance the Earth observing system.
US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP)
NASA-ESA Earth Science Joint Program Planning Group