International eye in the sky

The Copernicus Earth-observation program delivers a steady stream of information about how the planet changes from day to day.

Run by the European Commission and the European Space Agency, Copernicus uses satellites called Sentinels that continuously monitor Earth from space and tools on the ground for calibration and cross-checking.

Geoscience Australia (GA) provides those tools in Australia: a network of precisely positioned “corner reflectors” across the continent to test the accuracy of radar satellite measurements, and sensors that measure gases in the atmosphere and properties of the land as the Sentinels pass overhead.

“GA is an important part of Copernicus,” says the organisation’s Medhavy Thankappan.

Governments and others use Copernicus information to improve environmental management, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change, and provide fast responses to emergencies.

“Our Digital Earth Australia program, and the Open Data Cube technology that drives it, depends on Copernicus data to detect physical changes across Australia such as soil and coastal erosion, crop growth, water quality and changes to cities and regions,” says Medhavy.

“Another vital aspect of the Copernicus program is being able to share the data, and we are leading the world in ensuring the satellite data is ‘analysis ready’ and easier for commercial and scientific users to adopt for their particular application.”

To fully exploit the huge datasets generated by the Sentinels, GA supports a regional Hub that provides imagery for South-East Asia and the South Pacific. It also encourages links between European and Australian researchers and industry to exploit the data and create new scientific insights and commercial products and services.

Banner image: The Digital Earth Australia program monitors physical changes across the country. Credit: GA

In-content image: Intertidal Extents Model (ITEM). Credit: Digital Earth Australia