Copernicus has been specifically designed to meet user requirements. Through satellite and in situ observations, the services deliver near-real-time data on a global level which can also be used for local and regional needs, to help us better understand our planet and sustainably manage the environment we live in. Download the brochure…

Copernicus is served by a set of dedicated satellites (the Sentinel families) and contributing missions (existing commercial and public satellites). The Sentinel satellites are specifically designed to meet the needs of the Copernicus services and their users. Since the launch of Sentinel-1A in 2014, the European Union set in motion a process to place a constellation of almost 20 more satellites in orbit before 2030.
Copernicus also collects information from in situ systems such as ground stations, which deliver data acquired by a multitude of sensors on the ground, at sea or in the air.
The Copernicus Services transform this wealth of satellite and in situ data into value-added information by processing and analysing the data. Datasets stretching back for years and decades are made comparable and searchable, thus ensuring the monitoring of changes; patterns are examined and used to create better forecasts, for example, of the ocean and the atmosphere. Maps are created from imagery, features and anomalies are identified and statistical information is extracted.

The information provided by the Copernicus services can be used by end users for a wide range of applications in a variety of areas. These include urban area management, sustainable development and nature protection, regional and local planning, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, health, civil protection, infrastructure, transport and mobility, as well as tourism. Read more…

Copernicus Data Access

The main users of Copernicus services are policymakers and public authorities who need the information to develop environmental legislation and policies or to take critical decisions in the event of an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a humanitarian crisis.

Based on the Copernicus services and on the data collected through the Sentinels and the contributing missions, many value-added services can be tailored to specific public or commercial needs, resulting in new business opportunities.

In 2016, the European Commission completed a large-scale study which examined the overall impact of the Copernicus programme on the European economy and its benefits for the Space industry, the downstream sector and end-users. The results of this exercise were published in the first Copernicus Market Report. Moreover, several former economic studies had already demonstrated a huge potential for job creation, innovation and growth.

The Copernicus programme is coordinated and managed by the European Commission. The development of the observation infrastructure is performed under the aegis of the European Space Agency for the space component and of the European Environment Agency and the Member States for the in situ component.

These value-adding activities are streamlined through six thematic streams of Copernicus services.




The services have reached different degrees of maturity. Some were already declared operational several years ago (in 2012 for the Land Monitoring Service and the Emergency Management Service – Mapping, in 2015 for the Atmosphere Monitoring Service and the Marine Environment Monitoring Service) while others were declared operational more recently (in 2016 for the Border Surveillance and Maritime Surveillance components of the Security service and in May 2017 for the Support to External Action component) or are still in their development phase (Climate Change Service).

Copernicus users can also have a direct access to satellite data.

Copernicus services and data are provided free of charge to users.

  • Atmosphere Monitoring

    The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) provides continuous data and information on atmospheric composition. The service describes the current situation, forecasts the situation a few days ahead, and analyses consistently retrospective data records for recent years...

    The Copernicus atmosphere monitoring service supports many applications in a variety of domains including health, environmental monitoring, renewables energies, meteorology, and climatology.

    It provides daily information on the global atmospheric composition by monitoring and forecasting constituents such as greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane), reactive gases (e.g.  carbon monoxide, oxidised nitrogen compounds, sulphur dioxide), ozone and aerosols. Read more…

    The service also provides near-real-time analysis and 4-day forecasts, as well as reanalysis, of the European air quality, thus enabling a permanent assessment of the air we breathe. Read more…

    The monitoring and reanalysis of greenhouse gases and aerosols contribute to climate change studies by describing climate forcing. Read more…

    Thanks to daily analysis and forecasts of UV and stratospheric ozone, the service supports public health policies (e.g. skin cancer prevention). Read more…

    Solar radiation is playing a key role in domains like health, agriculture and renewable energies. The Copernicus atmosphere monitoring service provides public and private organisations involved in solar energy usage with suitable and accurate information on the solar radiation resources at the Earth’s surface. Read more…

    In addition to the above-mentioned services, the Copernicus atmosphere monitoring service compiles emission inventories which serve as input to the atmospheric chemistry-transport models and estimates net fluxes of CO2 and CH4 at the Earth’s surface. Knowing emissions and surface fluxes are prerequisite for understanding the composition of the atmosphere. Read more…

    The products delivered by the Copernicus atmosphere monitoring service are provided free of charge through an Interactive Catalogue available on the webportal.

    In November 2014, the European Commission signed a Delegation Agreement with ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast) for the implementation of the service. The public version of the Technical Annex of this agreement is available in the Document Repository (under Technical Documents) available on this website. The service is operational since July 2015.

  • Marine Environment Monitoring Service

    The Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service (CMEMS) provides regular and systematic reference information on the physical state, variability and dynamics of the ocean and marine ecosystems for the global ocean and the European regional seas...

    The observations and forecasts produced by the service support all marine applications.

    For instance, the provision of data on currents, winds and sea ice help to improve ship routing services, offshore operations or search and rescue operations, thus contributing to marine safety.

    The service also contributes to the protection and the sustainable management of living marine resources in particular for aquaculture, fishery research or regional fishery organisations.

    Physical and marine biogeochemical components are useful for water quality monitoring and pollution control. Sea level rise helps to assess coastal erosion. Sea surface temperature is one of the primary physical impacts of climate change and has direct consequences on marine ecosystems. As a result of this, the service supports a wide range of coastal and marine environment applications.

    Many of the data delivered by the service (e.g. temperature, salinity, sea level, currents, wind and sea ice) also play a crucial role in the domain of weather, climate and seasonal forecasting.

    In November 2014, the European Commission signed a Delegation Agreement with Mercator Océan for the implementation of the service. The public version of the Technical Annex of this agreement is available in the Document Repository (under Technical Documents) available on this website. The service is delivered in an operational mode since 1st May 2015.

    The products delivered by the Copernicus marine environment monitoring service are provided free of charge to registered users through an Interactive Catalogue available on the web portal. A downloadable pdf version of the catalogue of products is also available on the same website.

    These products encompass a description of the current situation (Analysis), the variability at different spatial and temporal scales, the prediction of the situation a few days ahead (Forecast), and the provision of consistent retrospective data records for recent years (Re-analysis).

  • Land Monitoring

    The Copernicus land monitoring service provides geographical information on land cover and on variables related, for instance, to the vegetation state or the water cycle...

    It supports applications in a variety of domains such as spatial planning, forest management, water management, agriculture and food security, etc.

    The service became operational in 2012.

    It consists of three main components:

    • A global component;
    • A Pan-European component;
    • A local component.

    The global component is coordinated by the European Commission DG Joint Research Centre (JRC). It produces data across a wide range of biophysical variables at a global scale (i.e. worldwide), which describe the state of vegetation (e.g. leaf area index, fraction of green vegetation cover, vegetation condition index), the energy budget (e.g. albedo, land surface temperature, top of canopy reflectance) and the water cycle (e.g. soil water index, water bodies). Read more…

    The Pan-European component is coordinated by the European Environment Agency and will produce 5 high resolution data sets describing the main land cover types: artificial surfaces (e.g. roads and paved areas), forest areas, agricultural areas (grasslands), wetlands, and small water bodies. The pan-European component is also updating the Corine Land Cover dataset to the reference year 2012. Read more…

    The local component is coordinated by the European Environment Agency and aims to provide specific and more detailed information that is complementary to the information obtained through the Pan-European component. It focuses on “hotspots” which are prone to specific environmental challenges. The local component provides detailed land cover and land used information (over major European cities, which are the first type of “hotspots”.  This is the so-called Urban Atlas. Besides an update of the Urban Atlas, the next local component will address biodiversity in areas around rivers (riparian areas). Read more…

    In December 2014, the European Commission signed a Delegation Agreement with the European Environment Agency for the implementation of the Pan-European and Local component. The Technical Annex of this agreement is available in the Document Repository (under Technical Documents) available on this website.

    In addition to the above-mentioned components, the service also supports the generation of Pan-European hydrographic and elevation reference datasets (respectively called EU-hydro and EU-DEM).

    More information on the Copernicus land monitoring service is available on the webpage.

  • Climate Change

    The Copernicus Climate Change service responds to environmental and societal challenges associated with human-induced climate changes...

    The service will give access to information for monitoring and predicting climate change and will, therefore, help to support adaptation and mitigation. It benefits from a sustained network of in situ and satellite-based observations, re-analysis of the Earth climate and modelling scenarios, based on a variety of climate projections.

    The service will provide access to several climate indicators (e.g. temperature increase, sea level rise, ice sheet melting, warming up of the ocean) and climate indices (e.g. based on records of temperature, precipitation, drought event) for both the identified climate drivers and the expected climate impacts.

    The Copernicus Climate Change service is under implementation.

    In November 2014, the European Commission signed a Delegation Agreement with ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) for the implementation of the service. The public version of the Technical Annex of this agreement is available in the Document Repository (under Technical Documents) available on this website.

    The first stage of implementation is dedicated to the so called “proof of concept”, meaning capacity building and testing of the overall architecture. The operational capacity will be reached during the third year of operations and it will be preceded by a pre-operational stage.

    For a more detailed presentation of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, please refer to the attached factsheet and the service website.

    The evolution of the Copernicus Climate Change service will be supported at best by the outcomes of a series of projects launched under the 2013 FP7 Space Call related to climate modelling and observation analyses. Furthermore, a specific expert group had been set-up to assess the need and opportunity for an independent European space-borne CO2 observation capacity (download the Expert Group Report).

    Read more about about the Climate Change service…

  • Emergancy Management

    The Copernicus emergency management service (Copernicus EMS) provides all actors involved in the management of natural disasters, man-made emergency situations, and humanitarian crises with timely and accurate geo-spatial information derived from satellite remote sensing and completed by available in situ or open data sources...

    The Copernicus EMS consists of a mapping component and of an early warning component.

    The mapping component of the service (Copernicus EMS – Mapping) has a worldwide coverage and provides the above-mentioned actors (mainly Civil Protection Authorities and Humanitarian Aid Agencies) with maps based on satellite imagery. The service started operations on 1st April 2012 and it is implemented by the European Commission DG Joint Research Centre (JRC).

    The products generated by the service can be used as supplied (e.g. as digital or printed map outputs). They may also be combined with other data sources (e.g. as digital feature sets in a geographic information system) to support geospatial analysis and decision making processes of emergency managers.

    Copernicus EMS – Mapping can support all phases of the emergency management cycle: preparedness, prevention, disaster risk reduction, emergency response and recovery.

    The service is provided free of charge in rush mode, for emergency management activities which require immediate response (read more) and non-rush mode, to support emergency management activities not related to immediate response (read more). It can be activated only by authorised users.

    More information on the service is available on the Copernicus EMS – Mapping Portal. The public portal of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service allows to download the maps and products delivered by this service.

    A User Guide for the EMS Service has been produced and is available here.

    The early warning component of the Copernicus EMS consists of two different systems:

    • The European Flood Awareness System (EFAS), which provides overviews on ongoing and forecasted floods in Europe up to 10 days in advance. Read more on EFAS…
    • The European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), which provides near real-time and historical information on forest fires and forest fire regimes in the European, Middle Eastern and North African regions. Read more on EFFIS…
  • Security Service

    The Copernicus service for Security applications aims to support European Union policies by providing information in response to Europe’s security challenges. It improves crisis prevention, preparedness and response in three key areas...

    • Border surveillance;
    • Maritime surveillance;
    • Support to EU External Action.

    Border Surveillance

    In the area of border surveillance, main objectives are to reduce the number of illegal immigrants entering the EU undetected, to reduce the death toll of illegal immigrants by rescuing more lives at sea and to increase internal security of the European Union as a whole by contributing to the prevention of cross-border crime.

    With the delegation agreement finalised on 10 November 2015, the European Commission entrusted FRONTEX with the border surveillance component of the Copernicus Security Service. The objective is to support the EU’s external border surveillance information exchange framework (EUROSUR) by providing real time data on what is happening on land and sea around the EU’s borders.

    Maritime Surveillance

    In the area of maritime surveillance, the overall objective of the European Union is to support Europe’s maritime security objectives and related activities in the maritime domain. The corresponding challenges mainly relate to safety of navigation, support to fisheries control, combatting marine pollution, and law enforcement.

    With the delegation agreement signed on 3 December 2015, the European Commission entrusted EMSA with the operation of the maritime surveillance component of the Copernicus Security Service. Under the agreement, EMSA uses space data from Copernicus Sentinel 1 satellites combined with other sources of maritime information to effectively monitor maritime areas of interest.

    Support to EU External Action

    As a global actor, Europe has a responsibility in promoting stable conditions for human and economic development, human rights, democracy and fundamental freedoms. In this context, a main objective of the EU is to assist third countries in a situation of crisis or emerging crisis and to prevent global and trans-regional threats having a destabilising effect.

    With the delegation agreement signed on 6 October 2016, the European Commission entrusted the European Satellite Centre (EU SatCen) with the Support to External Action (SEA) component of the Copernicus Security Service. In particular, the SEA component will assist the EU in its operations outside EU territory, providing decision makers with geo-information on remote, difficult to access areas, where security issues are at stake. It targets mainly European users but it can also be activated by key International stakeholders, as appropriate under EU International cooperation agreements.


The provision of Copernicus services is based on the processing of environmental data collected from Earth observation satellites and in situ sensors.
The Earth observation satellites which provide the data exploited by the Copernicus services are split into two groups of missions:

  • The Sentinels, which are currently being developed for the specific needs of the Copernicus programme. Sentinel-1, -2, -3, -5P and -6 are dedicated satellites, while Sentinel-4 and 5 are instruments onboard EUMETSAT’s weather satellites;
  • The Contributing Missions, which are operated by National, European or International organisations and already provide a wealth of data for Copernicus services.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is responsible for the development of the space segment component of the Copernicus programme and operates the Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellites. ESA will deliver the land mission from Sentinel-3 and will operate Sentinel-5P.

EUMETSAT is responsible for operating the Sentinel-3 satellites and delivering the marine mission and will also operate and deliver products from the Sentinel-4, and -5 instruments, and the Sentinel-6 satellites.

ESA and EUMETSAT will coordinate the delivery of data from upwards of 30 satellites that form the Contributing Missions.

“Space Segment” & “Ground Segment”

The Copernicus space segment component is completed by a ground segment whose role is to provide access to Sentinel and Contributing Mission data.

The ground segment, which is spread geographically, relies on existing infrastructure. It is delivered by international agencies (ESA and EUMETSAT) as well as national public and private facilities.

The ground segment also comprises the “mission control”, which will operate the Sentinel satellites and the facilities to handle the data received from the Sentinels, and will elaborate the data into products for Copernicus Services.

Read more about ESA and EUMETSAT ground segments.




Copernicus services rely on data from in situ monitoring networks (e.g. ground based weather stations, ocean buoys and air quality monitoring networks) to provide robust integrated information and to calibrate and validate the data from satellites.

In situ data are an essential and integrated part of Copernicus, and are used extensively every day by the Copernicus services and the space component to produce products, and deliver services that are requested by end users. They are also used for the calibration and validation of satellite mission.

The in situ networks are managed by Members States and international bodies and make data available to the services by agreement.

The European Environment Agency is leading work for Copernicus to catalogue the in situ requirements of the Copernicus services, develop frameworks and pilot agreements to ensure access to all the relevant data in a timely and sustainable way.

Visit the Copernicus in situ website.