Colour vision for Copernicus

Earth Observation Programmes

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ESA / About Us / Ministerial Council 2016

Earth Observation Envelope Programme – 5th period

Develop new scientific Earth Observation satellite missions and data exploitation schemes to advance science and knowledge of our planet.



  • Preparation of next-generation EO missions and instruments (including evolution of Copernicus Space Component);
  • Earth Explorers: Biomass (launch/operation), FLEX (development/launch) Earth Explorer-9 (selection/development), Earth Explorer-10 (selection) plus feasibility study for a ‘mission of opportunity’;
  • Development of Saocom-CS (with Argentina) and preparation of Polaris missions (Arctic monitoring)
  • Support applications on Sustainable Development in UN 2030 agenda.



Inform Inspire Innovate Interact


ESA provides critical information to safeguard the future of our planet. Thanks to current ESA programmes, Europe is world leader in EO science, technology and mission capability. EO-derived information is strategic. It provides a competitive advantage to Europe well beyond the space domain and creates jobs and economic growth.

European Earth Watch Programme - GMECV+3 element

Extend, improve global records of Essential Climate Variables (ECV) to support climate science and policy.

New long-term climate records from European Earth observation; increased European impact in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change assessments; key inputs for climate models and climate services; major advances in climate science; and better informed policy implementation post-COP21.

Inspire Inform Innovate Interact


Showcasing European industry excellence in delivering world-class climate observing systems, strengthening European science community leadership in climate monitoring, research and policy support. A better understanding of the Earth system and the capacity to better forecast its evolution (global change).

European Earth Watch Programme - Investing in Industrial Innovation element

Providing essential information to safeguard the future of our planet.

Enable European industry to realise innovative technology and service developments for commercialisation in the new space environment Space 4.0.

Ability of ESA to partner with industry in the realisation of industry-led ventures that aim at becoming commercially successful in the near term.

Inspire Innovate Interact


European economic partners competitiveness in the new space environment, new opportunities for industry to mitigate high-risk developments, novel partnership models with industry and empowering industry in the commercialisation of new technologies and services developed in partnership with ESA.

European Earth Watch Programme – ALTIUS element

Develop and operate a small mission dedicated to the operational monitoring of stratospheric ozone profiles.

An additional EO operational mission: a gap-filling atmospheric limb sounder to deliver accurate ozone profiles, over the period 2021–24.

Inform Innovate Interact


Provision of data to be used operationally in Europe and beyond. ALTIUS data would secure the continuation of long-time data series for ozone Essential Climate Variable used in a global change context.


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