The Copernicus program: Climate Change seen from the sky.
Copernicus is the new name of European program known as GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security). After Galileo, it is the second scale space program piloted by the European Commission.
The first two satellites were launched from French Guiana in April 2014 and June 2015.
An eye focus on Earth
“Copernicus” the name of the Polish astronomer who claimed during the fifteenth century that Earth revolves around the Sun, is the first environmental observation program run by the European Commission. The latter has validated a budget of € 3.8 billion for 2014-2020 to support the project.
This program aims to provide Europe with independent environmental monitoring capabilities, including a role of observation in marine environments, atmosphere, land, coastal and climate change, and support for emergency and security interventions (disaster management, support to humanitarian relief operations …). The data used will come from in situ sensors such as buoys and other balloons or atmospheric sensors, and also satellites.
The in situ component is coordinated by the European Environment Agency, while the space component is managed by the European Space Agency with contributions from the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT).
A wide scope of scientific needs covered
The spatial component is segmented into six specific services
• Territory: monitoring and land uses, natural resources and land management.
• Ocean: oceanography, studies of ocean currents and glaciers, primary biological production.
• Atmosphere: dedicated to air quality, study of the chemical composition of the atmosphere and greenhouse gas emissions.
• Climate change: collect information for monitoring and forecasting climate change.
• Emergency: mapping of the damage endure by an area during natural disaster forecasts and disaster risk (floods …)
• Security: maritime monitoring (ship, pollution) and land borders.
These services will be based on five families of satellites and instruments, each of which counts four members. In detail, there are three families of satellites (Sentinel 1, 2 and 3) and two instruments (Sentinel 4 and 5) which will be embarked EUMETSAT satellites.
Sentinel-1A and Sentinel-2A
The Copernicus program is scheduled to be active the next forty years. For now, two satellites were sent into orbit at about 800 kilometres from the earth’s surface.
Sentinel-1A launched in April 2014 equipped with an advanced radar able to observe Earth day or night and in cloudy weather. Sentinel-2 will be responsible of monitoring land surface and ribs, analysis of land, farming and forests. The objective is whether or not a ground requires a supply of water or pesticides but also to analyze soil structure to adapt certain actions (in case of heavy rain, for example) or to transmit information in case of forest fires.
To complete successfully its mission, Sentinel-2A has an advanced technology allowing it to provide optical colour images from the visible to infrared. In addition, it can perform the complete rotation around the globe in just 100 minutes and will revisit at intervals of 10 days the land areas, the large islands and the inland and coastal waters.
The collected data are made available to Member States and institutions of the European Union. In one year of operation, Sentinel-1A has already attracted 7,000 users, with over a million downloads for the online 145.000 put datasets.
Sentinel 3 will focus on Earth monitoring and operational oceanography. Sentinel 4 will be dedicated to the study of air pollution in geostationary orbit. As for Sentinel 5 will be directed to the study of atmospheric chemistry in low Earth orbit.