Earth Observation Satellites
The provision of Copernicus services is based on the processing of environmental data collected from Earth observation satellites and in situ sensors.
The Earth observation satellites which provide the data exploited by the Copernicus services are split into two groups of missions:
- The Sentinels, which are developed for the specific needs of the Copernicus programme. Sentinel-1, -2, -3 and -6 are dedicated satellites, while Sentinel-4 and -5 are instruments onboard EUMETSAT’s weather satellites. Note that Sentinel-5P, which is a precursor to Sentinel-5, is also a dedicated satellite;
- The Contributing Missions, which are operated by national, European or International organisations and already provide a wealth of data for Copernicus services.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is responsible for the development of the space segment component of the Copernicus programme and operates the Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-5P satellites. ESA also delivers the land mission from Sentinel-3.
EUMETSAT is responsible for operating the Sentinel-3 satellites and delivering the marine mission and will also operate and deliver products from the Sentinel-4, and -5 instruments, and the Sentinel-6 satellites.
"Space Segment" & "Ground Segment"
The Copernicus space segment component is completed by a ground segment whose role is to provide access to Sentinel and Contributing Mission data.
The ground segment, which is spread geographically, relies on existing infrastructure. It is delivered by international agencies (ESA and EUMETSAT) as well as national public and private facilities.
The ground segment also comprises the "mission control", which will operate the Sentinel satellites and the facilities to handle the data received from the Sentinels, and elaborate the data into products for Copernicus Services.