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newsCopernicus – monitoring our earth from space, good for jobs, good for the environment

Copernicus provides earth observation, while Galileo supports satellite navigation

Galileo and Copernicus are complementary systems making use of satellite technologies. Both systems have their strategic value as each of them has its own mission, which do not overlap. Galileo is essentially a "navigation" system providing a permanent and more accurate than ever positioning and timing services worldwide. Copernicus is an ‘Earth observation’ system providing information on the state of our environment and improving the security of our citizens.

What will Copernicus do?

Copernicus will ensure the regular observation and monitoring of Earth sub-systems, the atmosphere, oceans, and continental surfaces, and will provide reliable, validated and guaranteed information in support of a broad range of environmental and security applications and decisions.

The initiative has two main objectives:

  •     to provide sustainable, precise and reliable information about the environment and citizens’ security, produced under European Union control and tailored to the needs of a wide range of users;
  •     to create massive business opportunities for European companies, in particular SMEs, to boost innovation, growth and employment in Europe.

For example, the Copernicus Atmosphere service will allow us to monitor:

  •     greenhouse gases that warm our planet,
  •     reactive gases that influence the quality of the air we breathe,
  •     ozone layer and levels of solar UV radiation reaching the ground, and
  •     aerosols that affect temperature and air quality.

Copernicus services will also improve the management of natural resources, including water, soil and forests — not only in Europe itself, but also in other continents, including Africa. They will help protect our citizens from harm, e.g. through the monitoring of forest fires and other natural and man-made disasters.

Copernicus offers business opportunities

GMES/Copernicus's data collection and provision provides a huge potential for innovation and business development. Apart from the benefits for European citizens in terms of new innovative services, which improve their quality of life, it will generate a financial benefit of some €30 Bn and a minimum of around 50 000 new jobs over the period 2015-2030. Studies show that these benefits could multiply by a factor between 5 and 10 if adequate downstream enabling factors (e.g. a full, free and open data policy) are in place.Copernicus services will deliver information to a chain of information re-processors and end-users on a sustained basis. The “Copernicus economy” will grow by attracting increased investment in the value-adding market to provide innovative applications to meet increasing user demands and expectations. The definition and implementation of services and related observation infrastructure is driven by user requirements. Copernicus user communities include institutional users such as the European Union institutions, European intergovernmental institutions, public-sector users within European Union Member States, European public-sector users from non-European Union countries, non-European Union public sector users and institutional research communities.

An example of user driven innovation based on the Copernicus services which could generate business opportunities is the European Union's ObsAIRve service. This smart phone 'app' enables real time access to air pollution data. In many European cities, air quality is of concern and is therefore monitored around the clock. In most cities, industrial air pollution abatement is, or tends to be, replaced by traffic-related air pollution. ObsAIRve allows real time access to air pollution data through mobile devices such as smartphones.

Space manufacturing - Upstream impact

Copernicus will have a significant impact on the space manufacturing sector, which we call the upstream impact. This is an important part of the European industrial policy. Moreover, it will also affect the data production and dissemination sector, which we call the midstream, as well as the value-added sector, which we call the downstream. A recent study analysed the most attractive downstream market segments for Copernicus, namely water, transport, oil and gas, non-life insurance, agriculture and electricity. The study, based on this sectoral analysis, was also able to estimate the potential job impact on the downstream activities.

Copernicus's architecture and infrastructure

The Copernicus architecture consists of:

  •     a Service component providing information for a broad range of environmental and security-related application areas and stimulating a downstream sector serving numerous applications on both a local and global scale,
  •     an Observation Infrastructure component with two sub-components for space-based and airborne, seaborne and ground based (so-called ”in situ”) infrastructure.

In order to provide Copernicus services, service providers will depend on input from space and in situ observation infrastructure. In many cases, observation infrastructure has already been developed and put into operation by Member States. This existing infrastructure has been and should be re-used as much as possible in order to avoid duplication.

Only when - following a careful analysis of gaps in provision - existing capabilities have been found to be inadequate in meeting user requirements, new developments have been launched and financed by the European Union. This is the case, in particular, for the space infrastructure developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), the coordinator of the implementation of the Copernicus space component. The provision of data from in situ infrastructure is coordinated by the European Environmental Agency (EEA).

Copernicus on Europa