ESA Member States have recently approved the new principles for the Sentinel Data Policy, which establishes full and open access to data acquired by the upcoming Sentinel satellite missions.
The Sentinels comprise five new missions being developed by ESA specifically for the operational needs of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme (GMES).
GMES is an EC-led initiative to ensure the provision of Earth observation (EO) services that are tailored to the needs of users, both public policymakers and citizens, on a sustainable basis. As part of the ESA-led GMES Space Component, which guarantees access to a variety of EO data, ESA and the EC worked together to define the principles and implementation scheme of the Sentinel Data Policy.
The new data policy ensures free-of-charge access to all Sentinel data as well as the products generated via the Internet to anyone interested in using them, mainly for GMES data use but also for scientific and commercial use. Other access modes and the delivery of additional products will be tailored to specific user requests, but not necessarily within ESA’s remit.
The policy continues the international trend for full and open access to EO data, in line with the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) data sharing principles. Furthermore, it responds directly to the increasing demand of EO data in the context of climate change initiatives and in support for the implementation of environmental policies.
The policy is part of a more overarching GMES data and information policy that aims to strengthen EO markets in Europe, enabling growth and job creation, and to support European research communities.
ESA’s role within GMES is to be the development and procurement agency for the Sentinels and the coordinator for the whole GMES Space Component, including contributions made available by Member States, EUMETSAT and other GMES partners. In addition, ESA is the ad interim operator of some space infrastructure, i.e. Sentinel-1, -2 and the land component of Sentinel-3.