Friday, April 18, 2008

Infoterra Supports Sentinel-2 Design and Implementation

As an established provider of geo-information services with a leading role in the European GMES initiative, Infoterra has made a significant contribution to the definition of the thematic capabilities of ESA's upcoming Sentinel family of Earth observation satellites: The successful development and demonstration of sustainable geo-information services and the resulting long-term data needs are a key prerequisite for these missions.

The Sentinel satellites are specifically designed to support GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security). Within this programme, the European Commission (EC) and the European Space Agency (ESA) jointly work towards establishing an operational and sustainable Earth observation system in Europe. This system is to supply reliable information relevant for environment and security to European authorities of all levels.

For the past five years, Infoterra GmbH and other service providers, together with users, have jointly developed convincing applications: public authorities and decision makers in Europe and around the globe benefit from reliable, affordable and cost-efficient geo-information services that support – among others – urban planning, water management, risk management, the protection of the environment, biodiversity and soils. All of these downstream services rely on a set of harmonized European Core Services – the specific requirements of these Core Services have been the basis for a detailed definition of the satellite specifications.

The concept of the GMES Space Component initially builds upon an established network of existing systems in order to meet the requirements of European, national and regional user organisations. One of these so-called GMES Contributing Missions (GMC) is the German radar satellite TerraSAR-X, which meets major requirements of Core Services for land monitoring, emergency and security applications. The long-term availability and large-scale implementation success of these services depends on two major items: the reliable access to suitable Earth observation satellite data is ensured by the implementation of the Sentinel-family, which compatibly enhances the existing systems and capabilities; and the creation of dedicated budgets within the user organizations.

By awarding the Sentinel-2 contract to Astrium in Friedrichshafen, ESA has taken a significant step towards ensuring the data availability and thus the sustainability of GMES. The user driven approach assures that the sensors (such as Sentinel-2) built by the European satellite system specialists (such as Astrium) deliver precisely the type of data used by geo-information service providers (such as Infoterra) to derive products that exactly correspond to the end user’s requirements.

At the same time, the EC implements programs to initiate secure budget lines: Recent initiatives such as LIFE+ and INTERREG 4 are important financial instruments that support the implementation of GMES and related services by offering seed funding to the regions throughout the EU, as well as some candidate, acceding and neighboring countries. In the next months, targeted communications activities should result in an increased awareness and a considerable participation effort among the European user organizations. Initial effects of these activities are the first operational pan-European geo-information services within GMES: the European Environment Agency EEA's Fast Track Service (FTS) Precursor on Land Monitoring (led by Infoterra GmbH) and the FTS Urban Atlas, to be contracted by the EC's DG-Regio.

Within further major development and implementation projects, Infoterra progresses its continuous and persistent investment of substantial research and development efforts and budgets into the development of GMES Services. Following the successful projects GMES Service Element geoland and GSE Land (all coordinated by Infoterra GmbH), the geoland successor geoland-2 has recently been selected for implementation by the EC.

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