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Contributing missions overview

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ESA / Applications / Observing the Earth / Copernicus

In addition to data provided by the Sentinel satellites, the missions contributing to Copernicus play a crucial role, delivering complementary data to ensure that a whole range of observational requirements is satisfied.

The existing or planned Contributing Missions include missions from ESA, their Member States, and other European and international third party mission operators that make some of their data available for Copernicus.

The following categories of Contributing Missions are considered: Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), optical sensors, altimetry systems, radiometers and spectrometers.

Current Copernicus services mainly utilise the following observation techniques:


  • Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensors, for all weather day/night observations of land, ocean and ice surfaces


  • Medium-low resolution optical sensors for information on land cover, for example, agriculture indicators, ocean monitoring, coastal dynamics and ecosystems


  • High-resolution and medium-resolution optical sensors – panchromatic and multispectral – for regional and national land monitoring activities


  • Very High Resolution (VHR) optical sensors for targeting specific sites, especially in urban areas as for security applications


  • High accuracy radar altimeter systems for sea-level measurements and climate applications


  • Radiometers to monitor land and ocean temperature


  • Spectrometer measurements for air quality and atmospheric composition monitoring

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