Australia and the European Union enter historic arrangement on Earth observation

Found in: News

Image: Lake Amadeus, Uluru and Kata Tjuta in the Northern Territory.© Copernicus Sentinel data (2015)/ESA

Australia's access to vital satellite data has been assured through the signing of a cooperation arrangement in Brussels today between the Australian Government and the European Commission. The agreement provides access to Copernicus, the European Union's Earth Observation and Monitoring programme, which captures imagery of our planet and its environment for the ultimate benefit of all citizens.

Australia's Assistant Minister for Science Karen Andrews applauded the arrangement which provides Australia with access to the most comprehensive Earth observation programme in world history.

"Australia's economy already benefits from satellite data to the tune of $4.3 billion annually. This agreement secures a reliable long-term supply of high-quality data in an area expected to grow substantially over the next ten years," said Ms Andrews.

"Through our research sector, spatial industry, and our national science agencies Geoscience Australia and CSIRO, we envision data from Copernicus's satellites creating great opportunities for businesses small and large, in Europe and Australia, working together to create innovative, economy-changing products and services."

"The satellites will offer unprecedented capture of the Australian landscape with detailed, around-the-clock imagery to support the management of iconic environmental sites like the Great Barrier Reef, and monitor changes to our lakes and river systems.

The data will also stimulate the development of new applications and services relevant to Australia's agriculture, fisheries, transport, mining and energy sectors, and help build regional and world economies," said Assistant Minister Andrews.

The agreement was signed between the Australian Government, represented by Dr Stuart Minchin of Geoscience Australia, and the European Commission, represented by Dr Philippe Brunet, Director of Space Policy, Copernicus and Defence.

Source: Geoscience Australia

The Europoean Space Agency's Copernicus Earth Observation Programme involves a suite of satellite clusters, called Sentinels, aimed at bringing the latest satellite remote sensing technology up to date.  Already, two satellites have been launched and are becoming operational - one being Sentinel-1a, carrying a Synthetic Aperture Radar, and the other being Sentinel-2a, carrying a multispectral sensor that will cover most of the range of wavelengths as the Landsat missions, but with a resolution up to 10 m.  The missions that follow are geared towards the ocean and atmosphere.  Part of the significance of these missions is that their data will be made freely available in an open source model.  The difficulties lie in the fact that, as high resolution imagery, the logistics behind actually accessing the data become complex.  

Geoscience Australia's agreement with ESA ensures systematic acquisition of the coverage we need in Australia.  This is very good news for Astron, who have already been testing the early data from the Senintel-1 mission, and we intend to make full use of what Copernicus has to offer.  The new data will increase the range, availability and quality of the geospatial products we already offer, and we are following developments very closely.

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