The European Space Agency (ESA) is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. To contribute to the success of Copernicus ESA is exploiting its 35 years of expertise in space programme development and management. While the Copernicus programme is politically led by the European Union (EU), ESA is the overall coordinator of the Copernicus Space Component and will, inter alia, ensure the uninterrupted delivery of data from the Copernicus Sentinel satellites and from an important number of Copernicus Contributing Missions at national, European and international level. With the launch of Sentinel-1A on 3 April 2014 the Copernicus programme has entered into its operational phase.
Copernicus is the most ambitious Earth observation programme to date. It will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security. The Copernicus initiative is led by the European Commission (EC) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA), and the European Environment Agency (EEA). As the overall coordinator of the Copernicus Space Component, ESA is responsible (among a variety of other areas) for user access to data from the Copernicus Sentinels and more than 30 other Earth observation satellites. The EEA, meanwhile, coordinates access to data from airborne and ground sensors. The EC, acting on behalf of the European Union, is responsible for the overall initiative, defining requirements, and managing the Copernicus services. With the successful launch of Sentinel-1A on 3 April 2014 Copernicus has entered into its operational phase. Other Sentinels will follow into space over the next years and, together with data from the Copernicus Contributing Missions at national, European and international level, will serve users with satellite data in an uninterrupted and timely fashion. Copernicus provides a unified system through which vast amounts of data, acquired from space and from a multitude of in-situ sensors, are fed into a range of thematic information services designed to benefit the environment, the way we live, humanitarian needs and support effective policy-making for a more sustainable future. In essence, Copernicus will help shape the future of our planet for the benefit of all. ESA is contributing by providing a proven framework for the development of operational systems on behalf of the user community, paving the way for investment in future generation systems. ESA is exploiting its 30 years of expertise in space programme development and management to contribute to the success of Copernicus.