Satellite image of Berlin
Environmental protection, agriculture, urban planning: these are only a few of the areas that will benefit from the earth observation data supplied by the Sentinel satellites of the European Copernicus Programme. Five of these satellites are already now providing a multitude of information about the condition and structure of the earth surface, signaling that the Copernicus system is now operational. The many applications that now become possible are in the focus of the National Forum for Remote Sensing and Copernicus 2017 - "Copernicus@work". The Space Administration division of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) organized this conference on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI). Some 450 users and suppliers of earth observation services from the science, business and public administration sectors participated at the gathering that took place from 14 to 16 March 2017 in Berlin.
"We have strong companies that convert satellite data into products suitable for real-world use" said Dr. Gerd Gruppe, the executive board member responsible for the DLR Space Administration division. "Our goal is to strengthen the market position of these companies. A large technical challenge is posed by the gigantic amounts of data that modern satellites supply. Powerful software packages and intelligent algorithms help in managing them and are also the basis for new business models." In addition to commercial applications, a thematic focus of the Copernicus Forum is developing ways to use the Copernicus services and satellite data to meet the requirements of public institutions in Germany.
Already today, satellite-based Copernicus information is being incorporated in many data products and services. "With the launch of Sentinel-2B on 7 March an additional important mission is now complete", explains Dr. Jörn Hoffmann, Copernicus programme head in the DLR Space Administration division. "That now makes five satellites that are supplying the Copernicus programme with data to monitor land surfaces, oceans, and the climate. Their information also aids rescue services worldwide in disaster and crisis management."
Sentinels register small changes in the environment
The Sentinel satellites assure continuous environmental monitoring and reliably register even extremely small changes. Such information leads to numerous possibilities for practical use, such as applying fertilizer with pinpoint accuracy (precision farming), monitoring ecosystems like glaciers and rainforests, or providing ships with ice information. Having precise environmental information facilitates the expansion of renewable energies, for example when selecting sites for wind and solar parks. The Sentinel satellites provide a huge amount of data, which is made available to anyone free of charge without restriction by Copernicus. User-friendly access to the information is provided by innovative platforms like the "Copernicus Data and Exploitation Platform - Deutschland" (CODE-DE) .
The Copernicus Programme of EU and ESA
The EU and ESA have created In Copernicus a powerful and long-term earth observation infrastructure for Europe. The EU contribution to the programme is the operation of satellite-supported services providing information on the earth surface, oceans, atmosphere, disaster management, climate change, and security. Six satellite families, the so-called Sentinels, comprise the basis for these services. They are being developed by ESA in the "GMES Space Component" (GSC) programme and are operated on behalf of the EU. Toward the end of this decade the Sentinel-4, -5 und -6 satellites are planned for launch. The Copernicus programme also includes satellite data from other sources, such as data from the German TerraSAR-X, TanDEM-X and RapidEye satellites. The Sentinels augment current satellite missions in order to attain the most extensive and powerful space-based civilian earth observation system worldwide.