Published on 23 February 2023
The vast amounts of data generated by the Copernicus Sentinel satellites, combined with the information accessible through the Copernicus in situ component, provide up-to-date information on the state of the Earth and are used in many fields such as science, industry and policy-making. For example, Sentinel-1’s radar can map floods, monitor land and sea and detect oil spills, while changes in vegetation and land cover can be observed with Sentinel-2. Moreover, aerosols from forest fires and land surface temperatures can be assessed with Sentinel-3, while Sentinel-5P monitors the atmosphere’s composition and tracks pollutants. This enormous amount of data has become the enabler of a wide range of applications, such as monitoring extreme weather conditions or assessing the impact of climate change and natural disasters. Therefore, Copernicus has acquired a central position in support of conscious and sustainable policymaking.
It is, therefore, obvious that easy access to the information Copernicus data and information is a priority for the European Commission, in view of the numerous benefits it provides to global citizens.
Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market
These words set the backdrop for the announcement, last December, of a new platform to access and exploit the Copernicus satellite data. It came to life on 24 January 2023 with the official launch of the Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem portal and initial services; additional services will be continuously added in the months to come. This is the beginning of a new journey into the exploration of our superb planet.
What is the new Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem
The Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem is a new cloud-based infrastructure to access Copernicus data, acting as a gateway to the Sentinel, to the Copernicus Contributing Missions as well as to third-party data. Already hosting 34 petabytes of Earth Observation data, the Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem aims to go beyond the success of the Copernicus Open Access Hub and the DIASes, which have served a community now counting more than 600,000 registered users. However, it is not a simple makeover or mere name-change of an existing service.
On top of ensuring the continuity of open and free access to Copernicus Sentinel data, the Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem is a true step forward, contributing to the evolution and modernisation of the Earth Observation component of the EU Space Programme. Data access is made easier than ever by making the full and up-to-date archives of data immediately available. A single, dedicated platform now allows to search all available data for a geographic area of interest from a specific day or within a specified time frame. The data can be visualised through a web-based application based on the legacy of the de facto EO Browser standard, downloaded directly, or accessed in the cloud through standard APIs. This new service even enables the creation of time-lapse videos for streamlined visualisation of time-series data.
The Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem does not stop there, however, and offers even more features. A strong focus is placed on data traceability, allowing verification of the origin of the data and what processing or calibration operations were performed on it. Furthermore, as data archives grow, it becomes increasingly convenient to process information where it is originally stored. Therefore, for users interested in data processing, the Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem includes dedicated built-in tools. On-demand cloud processors optimised for Earth Observation applications will make it easy to extract and analyse data at scale and will enable new and ambitious applications for public, private or commercial activities. All these features will benefit institutional users, the research community, the commercial sector and every citizen of the planet. And they are available free of charge (although quotas will apply, while scale-up will be offered for a fee), thanks to the funding provided by the European Union.
The road to full service
The Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem started its initial services on 24 January 2023, only seven weeks after the signature of the procurement contract by ESA on behalf of the European Commission and will be in an intensive phase-in period until June 2023, when it will reach full service. All APIs will be implemented, allowing the full range of capabilities of the platform while increasing amounts of data will be made available to users. In the meantime, the Copernicus Data Hub distribution service will remain available, to allow users to migrate their workflows. Then, from July 2023 to September 2023, the distribution service will continue to provide access to Sentinel data, but with a gradual decrease in its operations capacity and data offering.
Built around user needs, the Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem is a significant step in the evolution and modernisation of the European Union Copernicus initiative. This new platform provides easy access to a wide range of Earth Observation data and services and, just like the inception of Copernicus 25 years ago, is expected to have a significant and lasting impact on the global community.
European Union. (2023, February 23). Easier access to Sentinel data thanks to the new Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem. Copernicus: Europe’s Eyes on Earth.