The signing of the grant marks the first real cooperation between the two in the GMES framework.
The GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) programme is a European Union-led initiative in partnership with ESA to combine ground- and space-based observations to develop an integrated environmental monitoring capability.
ESA’s role within GMES is to coordinate and implement the dedicated GMES Space Component, which involves developing the five Sentinel satellites, and Ground Segment and to coordinate data access to the Sentinels and to other missions mainly from ESA Member States which contribute to fulfilling of the GMES requirements.
Following the signing of the GMES Space Component Data Access (GSC-DA) grant, European Commission (EC) Vice-President Günter Verheugen, who is responsible for enterprise and industry policy, said: “Globally, changes in environmental conditions lead to increased risks for economical, social and political stability, which further affect European security.”
“Coordinated, comprehensive and sustained global monitoring of the Earth system is one of the key factors to respond to this challenge. GMES is the European solution for the needs of citizens in Europe to access reliable information on the status of their environment.”
Dr Volker Liebig, Director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programme, signed the agreement on behalf of ESA. “The data access grant is the first step of a wider GMES cooperation with the EC, using ESA’s 30 years of experience in collecting and distributing necessary Earth Observation data to users,” Liebig said.
The data access grant will support the GMES services, which today include three fast-track services focusing on land, marine and emergency, two pilot service projects focusing on security and atmospheric composition, as well as downstream and other public GMES-related services.
The data access grant considers the EO data needs from the GMES services and covers the analysis of the services requirements, the negotiation of data access agreements with contributing missions, as well as the development and pre-operations of coordinating functions linking EO data providers with service providers.
Under the grant, ESA will coordinate the data provision activities from the EO contributing missions and will act as Data Provider for its own missions as well as its Third Party Missions.