Copernicus promises faster, easier cloud access to data

The new Copernicus Sentinel-5P satellite captured the presence of elevated absorbing aerosols – caused by fires – in the atmosphere off the west coast of the US on 12 December 2017 (ESA)

14 December 2017

In what is being described as a “key milestone” for Europe’s Copernicus Earth observation programme, industrial partners have been selected to set up cloud-based access to data from Sentinel satellites and ground-based sensors. The European Commission, which oversees the programme, says these so-called Data and Information Access Services (DIAS) will “make it even easier for users from various industries and backgrounds to create Copernicus-based applications and services that will benefit people in Europe and around the world”.

By the second quarter 2018, five DIAS will be operating and will, according to Philippe Brunet, EC director for Copernicus and defence space policy, make access to free and open Copernicus data and information easier and simpler, with “no more long download times or storage issues”.

Says Brunet: We are kick-starting the process of taking the market for Earth Observation based services to a new level through the development of European information access and cloud processing services”.

Five DIAS will be available. European weather service EUMETSAT is developing one, along with newly signed consortia led by SercoCreotech Instruments, Atos Integration and Airbus Defence & Space.

Copernicus and its Sentinel space element are reasonably described as the most ambitious and comprehensive Earth observation programme ever, and rest on the principle that its output be freely available. But the challenge of managing – and distributing – so much data is as massive as the job of collecting it. ESA director of Earth observation programmes Joseph Aschbacher, speaking in October at an event to mark “first light” from the most recently launch Sentinel, the 5P air quality monitoring mission, noted that there are now more than 100,000 registered Sentinel users on the EU data hub, and many more accessing data through partners such as NOAA in the USA.