ESA releases open data and millions in prize funding

By on 31 May, 2017

France, as seen by Proba-V. Image: ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

The European Space Agency (ESA) is basically giving away their data products and even some of their funding to help bolster international innovation in remote sensing and space infrastructure.

For more than two decades, ESA has been sharing vast amounts of information, satellite imagery and associated geodata with scientists, industry, media and the public. Backed by a new robust open data policy and an international competition offering up 1.5 million euros, ESA is on a mission to revolutionise open geospatial data.

Open Geodata and GeoServices

Earlier this year in February, ESA announced it has adopted an Open Access policy for its content such as still images, videos and selected sets of data.

The new Open Access policy for ESA’s information and data is now in action and aims to facilitate the broadest use and reuse of the material for the general public, media, the educational sector, partners and anybody else seeking to utilise and build upon it.

More than 480 Envisat images released under Creative Commons licence, including this one of Ireland, Great Britain and northern France. Image:  ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

ESA has decided to release more contents under the Creative Commons IGO licencing scheme, with the Open Access compliant Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 IGO or, in short, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO licence as the standard. Much of this open access geospatial data is now available through

EUR 1.5 million prize pool for remote sensing

This year’s edition of the Copernicus Masters – Europe’s leading innovation competition for Earth observation (EO) – presents the immense prize pool of more than EUR 1.5 million.

Copernicus Masters is the largest international competition in the commercial use of Earth observation data. Competition organisers are calling on outstanding ideas, applications, and business concepts that make use of bespoke information in everyday life. The competition aims to transform great business ideas into real ventures. Submissions can now be made online and are set to close on 30 June 2017.

Copernicus Masters is the largest international competition in the commercial use of Earth observation data.

In addition to this year’s huge prize pool, the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Commission (EC) is hosting a total of six Challenges which enrich the overall Copernicus Masters prize portfolio. The Overall Winner will be invited to attend the satellite launch of ADM-Aeolus in Kourou, which is accompanied by a further cash prize.

The winner of the Sentinel Small Sat (S^3) Challenge will be awarded EUR 1 Million for the design and development of the mission and shall be provided with a launch service free of charge. In addition, the winner will receive EUR 10,000 cash prize. The goal of this challenge is to stimulate ground-breaking satellite design, testing and manufacturing solutions leading to small missions complementary, or providing added value to current Sentinel family missions.

The EC is also deeply involved in the Copernicus Masters and his hosting six new EC Challenges. Each Challenge has is topic-specific, covering the topics: Sustainable Development, Government, Big Data, B2B, Copernicus Services and -Security. Each winner will be rewarded with a cash prize of EUR 5,000 as well as a satellite data quota worth the same value.

“We’re very proud to have seen the Copernicus Masters develop into one of the innovation drivers for Earth observation in the last years,” states Josef Aschbacher, Director of ESA’s Earth Observation Programmes. :The launches of additional Sentinel satellites will continuously boost the commercialisation of related services.”

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