Copernicus Programme

Copernicus components

Copernicus combines data collected in space, on the ground, in the sea and in the air to deliver its services. 

Space segment

The Copernicus space segment comprises a fleet of dedicated satellites – the Sentinels – and a number of third-party satellites referred to as the Copernicus Contributing Missions. 

  • The Sentinels are developed to meet the specific needs of the Copernicus programme. Sentinel-1, -2, -3 and -6 are dedicated satellites, while Sentinel-4 and -5 are instruments on-board weather satellites of the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites  (EUMETSAT);
  • The Contributing Missions are operated by national, European or international organisations and provide a wealth of data for Copernicus services.

Ground segment

The Copernicus space segment is completed by a ground segment whose role is to provide access to Sentinel and Contributing Mission data. The ground segment also comprises the mission control, which operates the Sentinel satellites and the facilities to handle the data received from the Sentinels, and elaborate the data into products for Copernicus Services.

In the Copernicus programme, data provided by the satellites is also complemented by in situ data, such as data from sensors placed on riverbanks, carried on weather balloons or airplanes, pulled through the sea by ships, or drifting in the ocean on floats or buoys. This in situ component is essential to the delivery of high-quality, reliable and sustainable information services. For more information, see here.

Updated: May 16, 2023