Shipping routes and ice-thickness

Security services

The objective of the Copernicus Security Services is to support the related European Union policies in the following priority areas:

  • Border surveillance – with the main aim of contributing to the implementation of EUROSUR, the European Border Surveillance System, by supporting the mapping and monitoring of border areas.

  • Support to EU External Action – through the detection and monitoring of security threats. The service can also contribute to improving crisis prevention, preparedness and response capacities.

  • Maritime surveillance – with the objective of ensuring the safe use of the sea and securing Europe’s maritime borders. The corresponding challenges mainly relate to safety of navigation, marine pollution, law enforcement, and overall security.

The service builds on a series of projects developed within the Framework Programmes 6 and 7 (FP6/FP7), funded by the EC and on ESA’s GMES Service Element (GSE) projects such as the MARitime Security Service, MARISS. In the field of maritime security, an Integrated Maritime Data Environment framework is being developed by the European Maritime Safety Agency, EMSA.

The EU-funded G-MOSAIC project in 2009–2011 was responsible for the development of the pre-operational GMES security service. It provides the EU with intelligence data that can be applied to early warning and crisis prevention, crisis management and rapid intervention in hot spots around the world for issues such as weapons proliferation, fight for natural resources and illegal activities. 

MARISS service

The service has since been taken over by different projects within the EU FP7 that intend to contribute to the transition of security applications from pre-operational to Copernicus operational mode:

  • SAGRES (Service Activations for Growing Eurosur Success), intended to implement and test the ‘high time critical’, intelligence-driven maritime surveillance component of EUROSUR, along the concept of operation for Copernicus support to EUROSUR.

  • LOBOS (Low time critical Border Surveillance), intended to bridge the gap between the research in Earth observation and the operational set up envisaged for Copernicus support to EUROSUR. The project will develop five ‘low time critical’ pre-operational services in the areas of port monitoring, coastal monitoring, reference mapping and updates, and ambient-change detection.

  • G-NEXT (GMES pre-operational security services for supporting EU external actions) will supply information and intelligence data in support of the European External Action Service (EEAS), including mapping and geo-information products ready for deployment in emergency and crisis situations, and will provide a set of services suitable to be integrated in the users working environment in an effective and reliable way.

  • G-SEXTANT (Service Provision of Geospatial Intelligence in EU External Actions support), aim at bringing to an operational level an additional portfolio of Earth observation products and services to support the geo-spatial information needs of EU External Action users and stakeholders. 

Currently, the Copernicus services and projects all base their activities on the provision of satellite imagery from contributing missions, made available through the Copernicus Space Component Data Access system operated by ESA since 2008.

Both radar and optical imaging, from high to very high resolution contributing missions are used to support security applications. The Sentinels will soon start contributing to Copernicus. In particular, Sentinel-1, with its day-and-night, all-weather radar capabilities will be one of the main data sources for maritime surveillance services, while Sentinel-2 will support the generation of frequently-updated background reference maps.

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