Security and the environment: new satellites to spur earth observation

New satellites will soon reinforce the performance of the GMES earth observation system (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security), further to an agreement signed in Brussels today by the European Space Agency (ESA) Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain and Heinz Zourek, Director-General of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry Policy. GMES is a European Union-led initiative organised in partnership with ESA to combine ground and space-based observations to develop an integrated environmental and security monitoring capability. The data produced through this infrastructure will give a better understanding of the earth’s land surface, its atmosphere and its oceans, and support emergency and security services. In particular, these data allow for a better management of environmental and security crises.

Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy said: “Improved GMES capabilities are of paramount importance for our environment and security policies. I welcome today’s agreement, because citizens have a right to live safe and to have reliable information on the environment. Moreover, the agreement opens up enormous opportunities for our industry, including Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises.”

ESA’s Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain, said: “This marks a further step in the growing partnership process that sees ESA and the EC develop joint programmes for the benefit of all citizens in Europe. Within the framework agreement that links the European Community and ESA, and in accordance with the European Space Policy adopted in May 2007, ESA will develop and deliver the space infrastructure (the Sentinels) which will respond to the requirements defined by the EC concerning the GMES services dedicated to environment and security, two of the main concerns of our fellow citizens”.

The European Commission contribution will be transferred in two steps. It is envisaged to transfer 419 million Euro for Segment 1. The Segment 2 of the GMES Space Component Programme will be further submitted to ESA’s Ministerial Council in November 2008.

Based on the European Space Policy, for GMES in particular, the EU takes the lead in identifying and bringing together user needs and in aggregating the political will in support of wider policy objectives. It will ensure the availability and continuity of operational services supporting its policies. It contributes to the development, deployment and operation of corresponding European space infrastructure, while making maximum use of existing and planned assets available to Europe, including those of EUMETSAT.

ESA’s role within GMES is to implement the dedicated GMES Space Component, which involves developing the Sentinel satellite series and their ground segment and to coordinate access to data stemming from the Sentinels and from other missions which contribute to fulfilling of the GMES service requirements.

GMES supports the implementation of numerous EU policies and international commitments for the monitoring of the Earth’s environment and in support of emergency management and security. GMES will integrate information acquired from a large number of instruments (both space based and in situ, i.e. airborne, terrestrial and maritime sensors) in a reliable, and interoperable manner and make data available for user friendly exploitation. The GMES services will be used, in particular, by environmental agencies, local, regional and national authorities, civil protection organisations. The space infrastructure developed by ESA in cooperation with the EU is a fundamental component for the provision of these services.

Further information on GMES can be found at GMES

Author: EARSC

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