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Brussels, 28 th October 2009

EU space missions to strengthen earth observation for Climate and Security

In 2005, the EU made the strategic choice to develop an independent European space borne earth observation capacity to deliver services in the environmental and security fields, called Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES). This capacity is designed in a way that is firmly rooted on existing capacities led by the European Space Agency (ESA), Eumetsat and individual countries, complemented by additional EU components to ensure its global dimension. Together these three activity strands are forming the GMES space capabilities. A Communication, adopted today by the European Commission, deals with the achievements and the next steps to bring GMES in a fully operational stage in the most cost efficient way. It however covers only the space component, since it defines largely the scope of the programme as well as of the in situ infrastructure and the overall financial costs.

Vice-President Günter Verheugen, Commissioner for Enterprise and Industry, said: " GMES is essential for understanding climate change, supporting the EU emergency missions and improving the security of citizens. Further steps need to be taken to ensure that the investment put in so far pays off and that GMES becomes fully operational in the most cost-conscious way. This public investment on cutting edge infrastructure marks a turning point in the implementation of the European Space Policy. "

Overall, good progress has been made and the build-up phase of the GMES Space Component is well underway under the coordination of the European Space Agency (ESA). Since 2008, four pre-operational GMES services have been launched, including: land monitoring, marine operations, atmospheric composition monitoring and emergency response. GMES services have already proven helpful for the EU and the international Community, in particular in responding to such disasters as floods and earthquakes in Southeast Asia and the forest fires in Europe in an efficient and timely manner.

When outlining the next steps the Commission highlights that further steps need to be taken to ensure that the investment taken so far pays off and that GMES becomes fully operational in the most cost-conscious way.

Significant resources have been allocated both through ESA and the EU budget through the 7 th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (2007-2013) to develop GMES. Current combined investments 1 , implemented through the ESA GMES Space Component Programme, amount to 626 M€ (28%) and 1621 M€ (72%) by the EU budget and ESA Participating States contributions respectively. This investment will ensure the development of 12 Sentinel constellations and will also ensure data access schemes to the relevant EUMETSAT, ESA and national missions. In addition, the GMES Space Component programme relies on some 40 missions carried out by Member States, ESA, EUMETSAT and other third parties to meet the needs for GMES services.

To start the operational phase for GMES in time 2011, further funding decisions have to be made, both by the EU and by ESA. The Commission has already laid the ground for the relevant EU decision.

Furthermore it is stressed that according to the ESA Long-term Scenario 2 analysis and based on all investments already made, the financial effort for operating GMES would represent in total some € 4 billion for the period 2014-2020. This forecasted investment includes estimated annual costs of € 430 million for the operational activities and €170 million for R&D. Much however depends on the scope of GMES, since any upgrade beyond 2020 would imply further costs, notably if GMES would be given a strong security dimension.


The GMES Space Component comprises 6 series of earth observation Sentinels for a total of 12 missions so far:

  • Sentinel 1: a satellite constellation providing all-weather capability, being useful for land applications and providing overview data under adverse weather conditions for emergency response and security. Launch: Mid-2012.

  • Sentinel 2: a satellite constellation useful for land applications and provides overview data for emergency response and security. Launch: 2013.

  • Sentinel 3: a satellite constellation made for global land and ocean colour and sea-level monitoring. Launch: 2013.

  • Sentinel 4: atmospheric composition monitoring instruments to be embarked onboard EUMETSAT spacecraft. Launch: 2017.

  • Sentinel 5: atmospheric composition monitoring instruments to be embarked onboard EUMETSAT spacecraft for the post EUMETSAT Polar Orbiting System. Launch: 2019.

  • Jason-CS mission: high-precision altimetry mission in support of ocean surface topography as a follow-up on to the Jason series and particularly significant for climate change.

To further develop the programme, today’s communication proposes also:

  • to support the implementation of a free licensing and open access data policy for the Sentinels.

  • to ensure a continuous data flow towards the users.

  • to continue international cooperation which has always been intertwined with GMES as the European earth observation capacity.

  • to reflect about the future ownership of the Sentinel infrastructure

Today’s communication

1 :

Figures are shown in 2008 economic conditions.

2 :


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