Copernicus is the most ambitious Earth observation programme to date. It will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.
Copernicus is the new name for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme, previously known as GMES.
This initiative is headed by the European Commission (EC) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA).
ESA coordinates the delivery of data from upwards of 30 satellites. The EC, acting on behalf of the European Union, is responsible for the overall initiative, setting requirements and managing the services.
ESA is developing a new family of satellites, called Sentinels, specifically for the operational needs of the Copernicus programme. The Sentinels will provide a unique set of observations, starting with the all-weather, day and night radar images from Sentinel-1A, launched in April 2014.
Sentinel-2, launched on 23 June 2015, is designed to deliver high-resolution optical images for land services and Sentinel-3 will provide data for services relevant to the ocean and land. Sentinel-4 and -5 will provide data for atmospheric composition monitoring from geostationary and polar orbits, respectively. Sentinel-6 will carry a radar altimeter to measure global sea-surface height, primarily for operational oceanography and for climate studies. In addition, a Sentinel-5 Precursor mission is being developed to reduce data gaps between Envisat, in particular the Sciamachy instrument, and the launch of Sentinel-5.
The Space Component is managed by ESA and serves users with satellite data available through the Sentinels and the Copernicus Contributing Missions at national, European and international levels.
The ground segment, facilitating access to Sentinel and Contributing Mission data, completes the Copernicus Space Component.
The Space Component forms the European contribution to the worldwide Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).
Copernicus provides a unified system through which vast amounts of data are fed into a range of thematic information services designed to benefit the environment, the way we live, humanitarian needs and support effective policy-making for a more sustainable future.
These services fall into six main categories: land management, the marine environment, atmosphere, emergency response, security and climate change.
In essence, Copernicus will help shape the future of our planet for the benefit of all. ESA is contributing by providing a proven framework for the development of operational systems on behalf of the user community, paving the way for investment in future generation systems. ESA is exploiting its 30 years of expertise in space programme development and management to contribute to the success of Copernicus.
ESA is developing a new family of missions called Sentinels specifically for the operational needs of the Copernicus programme.
Each Sentinel mission is based on a constellation of two satellites to fulfil revisit and coverage requirements, providing robust datasets for Copernicus Services.
These missions carry a range of technologies, such as radar and multi-spectral imaging instruments for land, ocean and atmospheric monitoring
- Sentinel-1 is a polar-orbiting, all-weather, day-and-night radar imaging mission for land and ocean services. The first Sentinel-1 satellite was launched on a Soyuz rocket from Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana on 3 April 2014. Sentinel-1B will be launched in April 2016.
- Sentinel-2 is a polar-orbiting, multispectral high-resolution imaging mission for land monitoring to provide, for example, imagery of vegetation, soil and water cover, inland waterways and coastal areas. Sentinel-2 can also deliver information for emergency services. Sentinel-2A was launched on 23 June 2015 and Sentinel-2B will follow in the second half of 2016.
- Sentinel-3 is a multi-instrument mission to measure sea-surface topography, sea- and land-surface temperature, ocean colour and land colour with high-end accuracy and reliability. The mission will support ocean forecasting systems, as well as environmental and climate monitoring. Sentinel-3A was launched on 16 February 2016. Sentinel-3B is scheduled for launch in 2017.
- Sentinel-4 is a payload devoted to atmospheric monitoring that will be embarked upon a Meteosat Third Generation-Sounder (MTG-S) satellite in geostationary orbit.
- Sentinel-5 is a payload that will monitor the atmosphere from polar orbit aboard a MetOp Second Generation satellite.
- Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite mission is being developed to reduce data gaps between Envisat, in particular the Sciamachy instrument, and the launch of Sentinel-5. This mission will be dedicated to atmospheric monitoring.
- Sentinel-6 carries a radar altimeter to measure global sea-surface height, primarily for operational oceanography and for climate studies.
More information: Sentinel Online