A new agreement between Geoscience Australia and the European Space Agency (ESA) is set to ensure data from the EU’s Sentinel satellites are accessible in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.
The agreement supports the Australian government and European Commission’s partnership announced last year that aims to open up the benefits of the EU’s Copernicus Earth observation programme for the broader international community.
A key component of the cooperation will be the establishment of a regional data access and analysis hub managed by Geoscience Australia (GA). This hub will greatly improve access to Copernicus data in a region which is densely populated and experiencing high rates of economic growth, but which faces significant challenges in areas where Earth observation can help. These challenges include the protection of environmental assets, promotion of sustainable natural resource development and risk reduction from natural disasters.
ESA will supply GA with high-speed access to data from the Sentinel satellites through its Copernicus data access infrastructure. Through a consortium with Australia’s CSIRO national research organisation and Australian state governments, GA will make the data hub available to users in the Southeast Asia and the South Pacific region.
The hub is projected to provide access to over 12 Petabytes of data by 2025, and is expected to go beyond simply providing users with the ability to download Copernicus data.
Dr Adam Lewis, GA’s head of Earth and Marine Observations, expects that the regional data hub will be hugely beneficial to Australians: “the regional data hub will also provide a high-performance environment in which all the data can be analysed and applied at full scale to big regional challenges like the blue economy, sustainable livelihoods and climate change adaptation,” he said.
“By enabling multiple user groups, from multiple countries, to come together and ‘work around’ such a comprehensive set of data, we are helping to make sure the full potential of the EU’s amazing programme is realised and that regional partners can find regional solutions to regional challenges.”
The data access hub will be established at Canberra’s National Computational Infrastructure (NCI), the largest facility of its kind in the southern hemisphere, taking advantage of the Australian government’s investments in science and research infrastructure to support the region.
The cooperation will also make it easier for European and Australian experts to collaborate on the calibration and validation activities that are fundamental to ensuring that users have access to high-quality satellite data and value-added products they can trust.
“Through GA, CSIRO and many other players, Australia has long made a valued contribution to our calibration and validation activities,” said Pier Bargellini from ESA’s Copernicus Space Component Mission Management and Ground Segment Division. “Its technical expertise, world-class facilities and the diversity of geographies they have access to makes them a key player,”
Under the arrangement, GA will also act as a coordinating point for European partners to obtain access to Australian in-situ data, which is made available through the efforts of many Australian government agencies, research partnerships and universities.
The regional data hub will become operational on 1 July.