COPERNICUS SENTINEL SATELLITES: A DELUGE OF ENVIRONMENTAL DATA AVAILABLE FOR EVERYONE
Volker Liebig,ESA Director of Earth Observation Programmes
March 19, 2016
Copernicus, the European Union’s flagship Earth Observation programme, is now well and truly powering ahead as its comprehensive family of Sentinel satellites grows.
EU’s main partner in this endeavour is the European Space Agency ESA, who coordinates the space component. The first unit of Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-3 have been already launched.
The remaining Sentinel families, and their recurrent units, will join in the following years and will cover all environmental domains benefitting a wide range of applications including agriculture, health, transport, climate change, sustainable development, emergency response and crisis management in the case of natural and man-made disasters, among others.
Copernicus is a real game changer due to the amount of data and the repetitivity rate. Every 5 days we will have a complete image of the planet with a resolution of better 10 m. When the whole Sentinel family will be in orbit not less than 8 TB of data will come down per year.
Copernicus makes accessible all those products and information for free and open to all users.
The idea behind is that, similar to the GPS signal which is open and free, a lot of applications and also business will develop down stream. This in combination with the already now secured availability of the satellite infrastructure far beyond the 2030th allows industry and national partner to invest in own application and services.
The acceptance of users is enormous. Besides the some 80 EU services more than 24.000 (March 2016) users have self-registered and are downloading data, more than 3,5 Mio products have already been downloaded representing 4.2 PB of data.
Suddenly companies are interested who come more from the “big data world” than from classical EO services. To cope with all these challenges, a robust data dissemination infrastructure needs to be developed, including in particular the development of the Big Data paradigm in the Copernicus data dissemination architecture. Seeing the growing amount of data “bringing users to the data” instead of letting users download individually all data sets is recommended. Therfore ESA plans to develop Exploitation Platforms where users will find data, toolboxes and processing power to work on the data in clowdes. Commercial applications can be easily adding layers to the ecosystem.
The European Commission jointly with ESA are working on a step by step evolution of the current Copernicus Ground Segment and Data dissemination system in order to incorporate the new data management technologies.