Editorial Spring 2014
Congratulations to ESA, Thales Alenia Space and all those involved in building and launching Sentinel 1; the first satellite in the Copernicus series. Credit also to the European Commission for having steered a complex path to reach the milestone achieved last Thursday.
The launch of Sentinel 1 is truly a seminal event. According to my Collins English dictionary, seminal stems from the latin seminalis literally meaning “belonging to seed”. It goes on to give the definition “Strongly influence future events or highly influential” and the Wiktionary on-line gives it as “Highly influential, especially in some original way, and providing a basis for future development or research”.
Now this certainly describes Sentinel 1. In a few days’ time we expect to see the first radar image before a 6 month period of commissioning to calibrate and validate the data coming from the satellite. We consider that the Gigabytes of data to be collected every day will lead to good opportunities both for industry and for science. There is no doubt that it will be “highly influential” and will it will certainly provide a strong basis “for future development and research”.
The objectives of Copernicus are defined in the EC regulation as being (1) to provide a reliable source of geo-information to EU public customers and (2) to develop the EU downstream services industry. I paraphrase the objectives and note that the downstream industry in this case includes both data suppliers (satellite operators; sometimes called the midstream) as well as value-adding companies.