Operating Sentinel-3

With the launch of Sentinel-3 fast approaching, we interviewed Dany Provost, EUMETSAT’s Copernicus Programme and Service Manager, to find out more about the role of EUMETSAT with Sentinel-3 and the Copernicus Programme

EUMETSAT’S involvement in the Copernicus Programme – Europe’s response to the challenge of global environment monitoring and climate change – represents a win-win situation for the organisation and the European Union.

Copernicus was established in 2014, replacing the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme as the EU’s flagship Earth observation programme. 

Under the legal framework of the Copernicus Agreement signed between the European Union (EU) and EUMETSAT in November 2014, the EU has entrusted EUMETSAT with exploiting four out of the six Sentinel missions, namely Sentinel-3 (Marine), -4, -5 and -6. 

Under this Agreement, EUMETSAT will operate and control the Sentinel-3 satellites, starting with Sentinel-3A to be launched in February 2016 and to be followed with Sentinel-3B in 2017, after they have been launched and commissioned by the European Space Agency (ESA). 

EUMETSAT will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Sentinel-3 spacecraft and dissemination of data to users.

EUMETSAT’s Copernicus Programme and Service Manager Dany Provost said that as part of the entrusted tasks, EUMETSAT will distribute the Sentinels’ data and products to the Copernicus services, whilst ensuring at the same time that these are also made available to EUMETSAT’s Member States, thus bringing additional data to our Member States, which will make full benefit in their current applications and will pave the way to new applications.

Sentinels’ data will be delivered in synergy with the organisation’s own and third-party mission data building upon EUMETCast, EUMETSAT’s operational and highly reliable dissemination system. 

This will be the case for all data produced by the Sentinel-3 marine centre and also for the data of the other Sentinels exploited by EUMETSAT.  On the other side, EU and the Copernicus services and users will benefit from EUMETSAT’s operational data not only from its own missions but also from third parties with whom EUMETSAT has set-up cooperation agreements.

"This represents a significant additional information source for our Member States "

“This represents a significant additional information source for our Member States for their own application in full synergy with and building upon Copernicus,” Provost said.

“Furthermore, the EU will take full advantage of Sentinel-4 and -5 (these are atmospheric sounding instruments) flying on board EUMETSAT satellites, representing a significant in-kind contribution from EUMETSAT. So, in a nutshell, the EU and EUMETSAT have set-up, through the Copernicus Agreement, a clear and unambiguous win-win cooperation.”

Provost said Sentinel-3 will make the Copernicus space component more complete.  Its aim is to provide consistent, long-term collection of marine and land data for operational oceanography and land service provision. 

“It’s a complex system built around a variety of operational centres, with EUMETSAT’s marine centre playing a key role,” he said. 

“Because Sentinel-3 operations are going to be split between ESA and EUMETSAT between the land and marine parts of the mission, whilst still requiring consistency and tight coordination across the two sides, we had to establish clear interfaces on the operations side specifying how we are going to work and coordinate our activities.

“This includes the execution of joint ESA-EUMETSAT Boards to address anomalies and changes, to ensure that all aspects of the Sentinel-3 mission perform nominally and that all operational constraints and conflicts are successfully processed.

"What makes Sentinel-3 interesting is that the volume of data that will be delivered is quite enormous"

“What makes Sentinel-3 interesting is that the volume of data that will be delivered is quite enormous, compared to the operational missions we have today.  It is a major step up.

“From the technical standpoint, there are challenges, but all of those have been engineered over the years and now is the time to demonstrate that it works.”

Provost said that the higher level of on-board automation on Sentinel-3, compared to that on EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS) MetOp satellites, implies a different way of operating the spacecraft, in particular with respect to the mission planning.

“This is a new aspect for us and it’s important that we demonstrate the concept works,” he said.  “This could be of relevance for future programmes at EUMETSAT, so there is added value there for the future.”

Provost has been working on Sentinel-3 since 2008, firstly as the Project Manager, then, since the beginning of 2015, as the Copernicus Programme Manager.

“I’m looking forward to the launch and getting the first data and seeing the ground segment and operations team work together and moving towards the full operational system,” he said.

“These things bring a lot of excitement to me because of the complexity of it, the joint approach to the management of the operations, the EU and Copernicus flagship and last but not least the time I have been working on this. 

“Obviously there is a huge team behind the development and operations of Sentinel-3. 

“This team has been working hard to reach the state we are today and I really want to thank them all for their effort.”


Last Updated:  Tuesday, 02 February 2016
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