EUMETSAT brings key expertise to Copernicus Programme

Excellence as an operational organisation and experience working with users are two of EUMETSAT’s crucial contributions to the EU’s flagship environmental monitoring programme, says Associate Director of Low Earth Orbit Division Marc Cohen.

Two of EUMETSAT’s key areas of excellence will be the organisation’s main contribution to the EU’s flagship environmental monitoring Copernicus Programme. 

They are, its expertise as an operational organisation and experience working with users of meteorological and climate data and products derived from observations from space.

So says EUMETSAT’s Associate Director of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) Division Marc Cohen, who has been involved in overseeing, from EUMETSAT’s perspective, the development of the Sentinel-3 project.

The Copernicus Programme was established in 2014, replacing the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme, as the EU’s Earth Observation programme in response to the challenge of global climate change. 

Under this programme, EUMETSAT will be responsible for routine operations of the Sentinel-3 satellites after they have been launched and commissioned. 

"We also have now after 30 years a lot of experience with users"

The European Space Agency (ESA) is responsible for Sentinel-3’s launch and commissioning phase and also will be responsible for its land mission.  EUMETSAT will exploit the marine mission, including dissemination of its data to marine users and long-term archiving. 

EUMETSAT will also exploit the Sentinel-4, -5 and -6 missions on the EU’s behalf, in cooperation with ESA.

Cohen said the three marine missions on Sentinel-3 complement EUMETSAT’s current contributions to operational oceanography.  They are the Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR), the Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI) and the Synthetic Aperture Radar Altimeter (SRAL).

“It makes sense that Sentinel-3’s marine mission is within EUMETSAT,” he said.

The altimeter mission, which measures sea surface height, complements the high precision altimeter mission on Jason-2, which is jointly exploited by the United States’ National Aeronautics and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), France’s Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and EUMETSAT. 

EUMETSAT’s role in extracting and disseminating data and products from Jason-2 will be expanded in the near future when it delivers data from Jason-3, its replacement, to Copernicus as part of a marine data stream, which will include data and products from Sentinel-3.

“Sentinel-3 will also have the Sea Surface Temperature mission, which is also quite complementary to EUMETSAT’s existing Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) mission and we will have the ocean colour instrument, which is new for us,” Cohen said.

“The main contribution of EUMETSAT will be that, first of all, we are an operational organisation and have a dissemination system which is very user friendly in the sense of technical set up. 

“EUMETCast is easy and cheap to install and we have the full infrastructure for user support.

"Sentinel-3 is our first third-party programme, which means the mission is fully funded by third parties"

“We also have now after 30 years a lot of experience with users.  We are used to dialogue with users.  There may be new users but we are used to structuring discussions with users.”

Cohen said the fact that the EU is a customer represents a significant change for EUMETSAT.

“Sentinel-3 is our first third-party programme,  which means the mission is fully funded by third parties,” he said.

“With the EC, we will work under the Copernicus Programme Delegation Agreement, which is a big step for EUMETSAT.”

In this programme, we have made efficiency gains, particularly in the Satellite Control and Operational System, with a higher degree of on-board automation leading to different practices in terms of monitoring and control aspects, he explained.

Cohen praised the efforts of EUMETSAT’s Sentinel-3 team in developing and tailoring practices and processes to fit a highly complex system. 

The system has required building an even closer working relationship with ESA and its European Space Research Institute (ESRIN), in Frascati, Italy, which has responsibility for the Sentinel-3 Payload Data Ground Segment.

Last Updated:  Friday, 12 February 2016
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