Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space and Copernicus

The European ‘Copernicus’ programme is creating a modern, capable infrastructure for Earth observation and geo-information services.

What is Copernicus?

The European ‘Copernicus’ programme (formerly known as ‘GMES’ – Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) is creating a modern, capable infrastructure for Earth observation and geo-information services.

The programme is being run by the European Commission (EC) together with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Copernicus is designed to provide important information in six key areas: land monitoring; marine environment monitoring; disaster and crisis management; monitoring the Earth’s atmosphere; climate change monitoring; and security. The comprehensive, standardized and global-scale data basis required for global environmental monitoring is inconceivable without satellite systems. The aim of creating independent access to global Earth observation data characterizes the extraordinary significance of the Copernicus programme’s satellite-based Earth observation.

Seven satellite missions developed especially for Copernicus – the ‘Sentinels’ – are the centrepiece of the programme’s space component. Further missions, including missions of national space programs, commercial missions, and missions of the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (”Eumetsat”), also collect important data for Copernicus services.

ESA coordinates the delivery of data from up to 60 satellites and the EEA is responsible for data from airborne and ground sensors, while the EC, acting on behalf of the European Union, is responsible for the overall initiative, setting requirements and managing the services.

What services does Copernicus perform?

Land monitoring

The Copernicus land monitoring service provides information and data from the local to the global level about the surface of the Earth (including inland waters).

Monitoring the marine environment

The Copernicus service for monitoring the marine environment provides data and products for implementing international marine protection policies and supporting the protection of sea routes and coastal regions.

Supporting disaster and crisis management

The swift, efficient deployment of aid and/or rescue workers is vital in responding to humanitarian crises as well as large-scale, protracted natural disasters and other emergency situations.

Monitoring the atmosphere

The Copernicus service for monitoring the atmosphere provides data on the global distribution of atmospheric trace substances, in particular trace gases and aerosols (particulates).

Monitoring climate change

The goal of the Copernicus climate service is to build up climate information services to support global, European and national decision-makers in measuring and evaluating climate change and its consequences as well as in developing strategies and political measures for adapting to the consequences of climate change and mitigating the emission of climate-relevant trace gases.

Security applications

The Copernicus (GMES) service for security applications is under development.


Follow this link to know more about services performed by Copernicus

After 16 years of continuous investment, Copernicus will be operational from 2014.


What is Airbus Defence and Space’s role in Copernicus?

Airbus Defence and Space has been a key partner in Copernicus since the very beginning of the programme in 1998. Below are Airbus Defence and Space’s three main contributions:

1) Airbus Defence and Space operates a fleet of optical and radar satellites – ”Spot”, ”Pleiades”, TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X – and is one of the leading data suppliers for the Copernicus services through these contributing missions.

2) Airbus Defence and Space is playing a major part in the construction of the Sentinel satellites that form the space segment of the programme and will complement the data from the Copernicus Contributing Missions.

Click on the picture to know all about the Sentinel Satellites

3) Airbus Defence and Space provides important upstream services in the Copernicus programme. Since the very start of this initiative the Geo-Intelligence programme line of the company has been leading and supporting various Copernicus projects such as the “Geoland” series focussed on land management or “Safer” for emergency response.

Today, they are strongly involved in on-going service definitions:

  • The projects “Lobos” and “Sagres” define the Copernicus security service, “Sagres” dealing with highly time-critical applications and “Lobos” addressing less time-critical operations.
  • “Increo” addresses emergency services, providing actors responsible for civil protection and disaster management with Earth Observation data-based solutions, contributing to an improved preparedness and mitigation planning.
  • ”Charme”, a pre-cursor to the future Copernicus climate change service, developing a platform-neutral information service for climate-related datasets.

In actual service operations, the company currently holds a framework contract for non-rush mapping for Copernicus’ emergency services sector.

Furthermore, Airbus Defence and Space is a key player in the upcoming Copernicus space component operation: The Geo-Intelligence programme line will not only run the Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 processing and archiving centres, it also operates the programme’s Coordinated Data Access System CDS, making Airbus Defence and Space the primary centre for processing, archiving and disseminating Sentinel 1 data, following its launch in 2014.


Copernicus and the new space data highway EDRS

Starting in 2015 the Copernicus programme will be the first user of the EDRS - SpaceDataHighway. The system will provide secure and fast communication services for the Sentinel 1 and Sentinel 2 satellites. It ensures the timely availability of data particularly for time-critical applications such as environmental monitoring, emergency response and security missions. The system complements the Sentinel ground station network and thus facilitates the full exploitation of the investments in the Copernicus space segment and its capabilities. It is being implemented within a Public-Private Partnership between The European Space Agency and Airbus Defence and Space.


About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space is a division of Airbus Group formed by combining the business activities of Cassidian, Astrium and Airbus Military. The division is Europe’s number one defence and space enterprise, the second largest space business worldwide and among the top ten global defence enterprises. It employs some 38,000 employees generating revenues of approximately €14 billion per year.

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