In the Copernicus concept, the European Commission charged ESA (and to a large extent the EUMETSAT organisation) with operating the satellites and the ground segment. For the latter, ESA relied on the experience and infrastructure of facilities that had also filled operating functions for the previous ESA satellites, and that included DFD. After a Europe-wide call for tenders, DFD was selected to serve as the processing and archiving centre (PAC) for all data from Sentinel-1 and the Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI) on Sentinel-3. For safety reasons the ESA concept specified the mirroring of functions. For that reason, Airbus operated until the end of January 2020 (until BREXIT) an additional Sentinel-1-PAC in Newport (Wales) in Great Britain.
The time between the end of service life for the earlier ENVISAT satellite and the launch of the Sentinel-4/5 satellites created a data gap, especially for monitoring trace gases in the atmosphere. To keep this gap small, ESA launched Sentinel-5P in 2017 as a precursor to the Sentinel-5 mission. Continuing the similar functions it performed for ENVISAT, DFD was given responsibility also for the Sentinel-5P PAC. In addition DFD is responsible for acquisition of Sentinel-5P data at its receiving station in Inuvik, Canada, as well as in Spitzbergen, Norway, in cooperation with the KSAT company.
Already when the Copernicus-payload ground segment was conceived in the mid-2000s, the transfer of data via high-rate networks already played an important role. The T-Systems company in Germany was commissioned to design and operate a rapidly functioning, reliable internet backbone interconnecting all the Copernicus facilities. Accordingly, two redundant, ten gigabit per second communication lines connect the DFD PAC in Oberpfaffenhofen with the receiving station and other operative bodies.
In addition to acquisition of data from the Sentinel satellites at X band ground stations, the Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellites carry a laser communication terminal (LCT). Using this optical link, two presently in geostationary orbit European Data Relay Satellites (EDRS-A and EDRS-C) can be contacted. From there, the data is transmitted by Ka band microwave link to the primary ground station of the EDRS system at DLR in Weilheim (near Oberpfaffenhofen). At DLR, the German Space Operations Center (GSOC) is involved in functions relating to EDRS operation.