25 January 2023


Data, Earth Observation, Media Updates, News, Space

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Users of data from the European Union’s (EU’s) Copernicus Earth observation (EO) programme will benefit this year from a new service offering greatly improved levels of access. An initial limited rollout of the new Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem is happening this month, January 2023, with the full service expected to be available by end of 2023.

RHEA Group is supporting the new Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem with the integration of datasets from Copernicus Contributing Missions, which deliver complementary Earth observation data in addition to the data provided by the Sentinel satellites.

The EU’s Copernicus programme is the biggest provider of EO data in the world, generating petabytes of data and information every year. It supports applications that are relied on across many sectors, including agriculture, finance, security and disaster recovery, and activities around the monitoring of climate change. Its impact has been significant and now, to serve its users even better, a new way to access the data is being introduced – the Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem. The new service is designed to meet users’ current and predicted requirements for data processing and distribution, which have far exceeded the initial expectations when Copernicus was launched.

The Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem project kicked off in December 2022, and builds on existing distribution services and Data Information Access Services. RHEA is a member of the industrial team, led by T-Systems, that is working on the Service under the guidance of the European Space Agency (ESA), with objectives set by the European Commission.

RHEA’s role is to take care of the integration of data from the many Copernicus Contributing Missions (CCMs), which include missions from ESA Member States, commercial very high resolution optical and radar operators, and other European and international third parties. Before the introduction of the Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem, there was nowhere that users could go to access both Sentinel and CCM data in one place. RHEA’s experts will implement software routines and procedures to ensure the continuous and timely update of CCM datasets on the Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem, including any new ones introduced in the future through new agreements between ESA and CCM data providers.

The Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem team
The Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem team celebrate the launch of the service at the 15th European Space Conference.

Unlike Sentinel data, for which completely free and open access is guaranteed, access to CCM data is regulated by dedicated terms and conditions. RHEA will therefore also support T-Systems in setting up and managing the corresponding licenses needed for coordinating the access to CCM datasets by the various categories of Copernicus users.

The new service will provide a variety of interfaces, including pure data download, cloud-optimized formats and streamlined access APIs that can provide pre-processed data. Other features will include a web-based application built on a popular EO browser technology, on-demand processors for building non-default formats, and scalable cloud resources optimized for EO tasks. All data managed within the new service will be traceable, in response to the increasing image manipulation capabilities of machine and deep learning algorithms.

The initial size of the Copernicus data archive is 34 petabytes (including around 450 terabytes of CCM data) and is expected to reach around 80 petabytes after 6 years. The vast majority of capabilities offered by the Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem will be accessible free, funded by the EU, with additional free resources for research and pre-commercial exploitation. Commercial terms will be available for larger scale operations.

The service contract for the Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem project has a duration of 6 years, with an option to extend it up to 10 years.

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