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Digital Twin Earth

The ESA Digital Twin Earth Challenge seeks to stimulate entries that can help visualise, monitor and forecast natural, societal, economic and industrial activities and trends on the planet, paving the way for the carbon neutral economy and reinforcing Europe’s commitment to the Green Deal.

The Finalists

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

Advanced Weather Simulations for Renewable Energy

Team: Charlotte Huang, Joachim Reinhardt
As energy systems transition towards renewables worldwide, energy production is no longer plannable and available on demand, but rather intermittent and dependent on hard-to-predict weather conditions. Yet, tools for analysis have largely remained static. A relatively short period of historical weather observations is used to guide decision-making, even as climate change and inherently dynamic weather processes ensure that future weather conditions won’t be identical to the past. accounts for these challenges and puts the dynamics of weather-dependent energy production at the forefront. This start-up leverages machine learning in combination with Copernicus data to ascertain site-specific weather characteristics worldwide. By pairing this information with case-specific load requirements and/or storage potential, generates individual risk assessments that will enable renewable energy professionals to optimise planning and financing in the sector for decades to come.


Team: Tyler Rayner
Orbiter is an Earth visualisation app for mobile devices. Designed to be accessible to everyone, the Orbiter app provides an up-to-date representation of the Earth and its processes. Using current images and data from the Sentinel-2, -3, and -5p satellites, Orbiter presents beautiful, detailed, recent Earth imagery. A responsive globe allows the user to spin and zoom around the Earth, revealing high-resolution Sentinel-2 satellite images. Orbiter also allows for fast comparisons of different time periods. It provides an animated and coloured data overlay for the globe to show invisible processes of the Earth, whether natural or caused by humans. Orbiter is a late-stage development project that seeks to give everyone access to comprehensive Earth observation. The goal is to close the gap between the scientific community and the public by offering a powerful tool for communicating the data gathered by Copernicus and the value it represents to laypersons.

Village Data Analytics (VIDA)

Team: Tobias Engelmeier

VIDA is a platform that creates digital twins of remote villages in developing countries to help investors make better, faster, data-driven decisions.
For these digital twins, VIDA combines Earth observation data (mainly Copernicus data) with AI algorithms and fuses them with user data (e.g. from a sensor or survey). By bringing together EO data with in-situ data, reliable and granular digital maps can be created for regions that have been left out of the modern data economy.
Currently, VIDA is used mainly for electrification planning (SDG7) by mini-grid and solar home system companies, government planning agencies, and development banks in Africa and South Asia. However, its mission is to deploy the best available technology wherever it can have the biggest social impact – and to bring the needs of over two billion people in underdeveloped, undocumented rural regions around the globe to the attention of infrastructure investors.

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

A digital twin is a virtual replica or a simulation of a physical system or system components. The ESA Digital Twin Earth Challenge (ESA DTE Challenge) aims to stimulate applications that can demonstrate how to derive granular and reliable information about past, present and future changes in the Earth system using Earth observation data in combination with state-of-the-art technologies such as Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, Blockchain, and Cloud Computing. Submissions are welcome addressing key societal challenges, including:

  • Resilient Blue & Green Infrastructures
  • Food Security
  • Climate Adaptation
  • Health and Well Being
  • Pollution Monitoring and Prevention

The submissions to this challenge will be evaluated based on the potential for technological feasibility combining these different technologies, rather than their maturity, and addressing key building blocks of the DTE.

Rewards 2021

Cash Prize
The winner will receive a cash prize worth EUR 10,000.
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 the European Commission).

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

Submissions to the ESA Copernicus Digital Twin Earth Challenge will be assessed against the following criteria:


Is the idea innovative with respect to the market offer? Does it improve current products or services? Or does it deliver "breakthrough" innovation, combining new technologies, new trends, behaviours and new business models?

Copernicus Relevance

What is the role of Copernicus data? What is the connection to the existing Copernicus Services (in line? evolution? expansion?)?

Technical Feasibility

Is it technically sound and implementable at scale? Is the engineering approach credible?

Market Viability Index

Does the solution have real market potential? How many users can be reached?

Impact Index

What is the significance and potentially transformative contribution to the Digital Twin Earth Concept? How well are the key policy priority areas addressed?

About the European Space Agency (ESA)

The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. To contribute to the success of Copernicus, ESA is exploiting its 35 years of expertise in space programme development and management. While the Copernicus programme is politically led by the European Union (EU), ESA is the overall coordinator of the Copernicus Space Component and will, inter alia, ensure the uninterrupted delivery of data from the Copernicus Sentinel satellites and an important number of Copernicus Contributing Missions at a national, European and international level. Following the launch of Sentinel-1A on 4 April 2014, the Copernicus programme has entered its operational phase, serving users with an ever-increasing mix of satellite imagery and other data.


European Space Agency (ESA)

Anna Burzykowska
Copernicus Officer
+39 06 941 88 378

Hall of Fame

Discover all previous winners of the Copernicus Masters!

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