Earth observation business opportunities for European and Canadian industry
The European Space Agency (ESA) is taking an active role in stimulating the wider use of Earth observation data by the public and private sector, and in creating more business opportunities for industry.
Enterprises in Europe and Canada have established a lead in the use of Earth observation data for research and technology. Now the objective is to take the next step and encourage the commercial and operational use of Earth observation data. ESA will open up new opportunities for industry by issuing a series of Invitations to Tender in three distinct areas:
- the development of software tools for ENVISAT, ESA’s new Earth observation satellite
- the development of new Earth observation-based information services mainly targeted at institutional users
- the provision of long-term information services for Earth observation
The objective is to strengthen the commercial position of European industry in the fast-growing worldwide market for Earth-observation data.
ERS-1 and ERS-2: ten years of success
During the last 10 years scientists working in Earth observation have obtained impressive results in developing the use of Earth-observation data from ESA’s ERS satellites, both for public and commercial use. New processing methodologies and applications have been developed such as SAR Interferometry which has produced spectacular results in various fields including monitoring earthquakes, volcanoes and land subsidence; studying the dynamics of glaciers; constructing Digital Elevation Models of the Earth's surface; and classifying different land types.
Today, Earth observation data is being used by more than 300 research teams. Small high-tech firms, large companies and public services such as meteorological offices, use Earth-observation data for operational and commercial purpose. ESA's data-handling centre at ESRIN deals with requests for Earth-observation data from all the corners of the Earth. The large number of users in North America and the Asia-Pacific Basin is particularly striking.
It is a widely recognised that the success of the two ERS satellites has led to the development of new applications of Earth-observation data. Expectations are now high for the innovative new Earth observation satellite, ENVISAT, due to be launched in October.
This will be the biggest and most sophisticated Earth-observation satellite ever built. With ten highly advanced instruments on board, it will be able to collect continuous data and images of the planet’s vital elements, including sea and landscapes, weather patterns and atmospheric changes. ENVISAT, together with its advanced ground-support system, is designed for the development of operational and commercial applications.
ESA has launched a new data policy to stimulate the use of Earth observation data provided by Envisat for both public and commercial use, and for research and development in new Earth-observation fields.
ESA is now opening up new opportunities for European and Canadian industry in a series of open Invitation to Tenders. A total budget of more than seven million Euro will finance 37 new contracts to be initiated within the coming months.
Further details on the near-term planned Invitation to Tenders are presented in “New Earth observation business opportunities open to Industry”