German Aerospace Center (DLR)

DLR Environment, Energy & Health Challenge

DLR is looking for innovative solutions that use Earth observation data to support sustainable management of our limited natural resources and foster human well-being.

The Finalists

Discover the TOP submissions to the DLR Challenge below. Please note, that finalists are presented in an alphabetically order of their submission title.

EO4Demographics – Improving Vaccination Campaign Planning with Space Data

Team: Gustavo Caluori Satei
EO4Demographics is a Copernicus-based methodology for estimating demographic variables to help health and humanitarian organisations obtain better population grids and thereby improve vaccination campaigns in low-income countries. Using a combination of satellite imagery, computer vision, ancillary data, micro-census surveys, and statistical modelling, the solution can address different aspects. These include environmental and socio-economic parameters (based on Copernicus imagery), settlements and building types (with object classification from VHR imagery), population units (categorised according to building types and geospatial variables), and geostatistical models for estimating the population of entire districts. All this makes EO4Demographics more than 50 times more cost-efficient than traditional country censuses, as well highly effective in terms of the economic costs of preventable diseases and the value of lives that would have been lost. The methodology is also applicable to other social needs, such as food distribution.

Pina – Quantifying and Rewarding Sustainable Forestry

Team: Gesa Biermann, Florian Fincke, Jonas Kerber
The voluntary carbon market offers the opportunity for companies and individuals to offset unavoidable emissions by purchasing carbon credits and thereby contribute to the fight against climate change. Forests, which are one of the most effective carbon sinks, are already in great danger due to climate-change-induced threats such as storms, droughts, and beetle infestations. Getting certified to sell carbon credits, however, is an expensive and lengthy process that requires expert guidance, which prevents forest owners from participating in this market. Pina uses AI models based on LiDAR and hyperspectral data in combination with the Copernicus Climate Change and Land Monitoring Services, Sentinel-2, and VHR1/2 to quantify and reward forest carbon capture. It detects forests at risk due to climate change, simulates the carbon storage benefits of forest restructuring, and precisely measures and monitors forest carbon stocks. Pina thus digitalises and automates the formerly manual process of forest carbon project certification to reduce the time and costs involved.

UrbanSens – Empowering Authorities to Take Action

Team: Sofia Garcia, Nils Karges, Andreas Bury, Antiono Castañeda, Annika Ludwig
Climate change is putting more than 200 million people worldwide at risk of rising temperatures that can lead to higher rates of heat-related illness and death. This number could rise to 1.6 billion by 2050. Due to a lack of data, many cities are not prepared to take appropriate mitigation and adaptation measures. UrbanSens is an interactive platform that combines Sentinel-3 thermal data, Sentinel-2 VNIR data, and city-wide IoT sensors to understand thermal dynamics across large areas at high frequency. This allows city authorities to access street-level data in near-real time. It will provide an overview of the dynamics among temperature, humidity and demographic data. A forecasting service is also provided that uses historical remote sensing data to identify potential risk areas, which will make it possible to develop local strategies for urban resilience. UrbanSens is a comprehensive, highly scalable smart city solution for managing thermal stress in urban areas in line with the specific needs of individual partners.

Want to know the winner of this year’s challenge? Then join the Space Awards via livestream on 14 December 2021. Register now for free!

The Challenge

In the light of global change,  pandemics  as well as climate change a sustainable management of our planets resources is more important than ever. DLR is looking for innovative solutions to achieve this goal. Areas of particular interest to DLR are:

  • Environmental Management: Identifying environmental issues and managing natural resources
  • Sustainable Resource Management: Monitoring and improving the use of natural resources, as well as generation, distribution, or consumption of energy
  • Health Promotion: Identifying, monitoring and / or providing solutions to foster human health or mitigating epidemic impacts.

Besides using Earth observation satellite data from Copernicus and DLR missions, participants are encouraged to supplement their ideas with other sources of data, such as information generated by crowd-sourcing, social media or in-situ measurements. Solutions should support professionals working in these areas, inform the public, or empower public authorities to take action and solve issues on a local, national, or global scale.

Rewards 2021

Cash Prize
The winner will receive a cash prize worth EUR 5,000.
Satellite Data
Possibility to access EUR 10,000 worth of commercial datasets from the Copernicus Contributing Missions in the Copernicus Data Warehouse (financial support by COM).

Additional Reward for the Overall Winner 2021

Cash Prize

EUR 10,000 if your concept gets selected as Copernicus Masters 2021 Overall Winner

Evaluation Criteria

Benefit for society

Does the idea foster human wellbeing, health and/or sustainable resource management?

Copernicus Relevance

How significant is the use of sentinel satellite data for the realisation of the idea?


What is in particular new about the idea?

User acceptance

Is the idea of practical use to users or the general public? Would they use it?


Is the idea technically feasible?

About the German Aerospace Center (DLR)

The Earth Observation Center (EOC) of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) works in all fields related to the development of algorithms and data analysis systems, as well as in the practical implementation of Earth observation applications and services – from satellite data reception and near-real-time services to disaster monitoring and environmental mapping. As such, the EOC is involved in many aspects of Copernicus’s design, implementation, and operations. In determining the focal points of its research, DLR is to a large extent guided by the demand for innovative products and services developed in close cooperation with industry entities. It also invests in promising technologies and offers its research and development capacities to partners for their own use.


Gunter Schreier, DLR


Gunter Schreier
Deputy Director

Hall of Fame

Discover all previous winners of the Copernicus Masters!

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Let us know how we can help you!

Anwendungszentrum GmbH Oberpfaffenhofen (AZO)

Ines Kühnert
Head of Galileo & Copernicus Competitions
+49 8105 77277-19