Copernicus is the most ambitious Earth observation programme to date. It will provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security.
Copernicus is the new name for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security programme, previously known as GMES.
This initiative is headed by the European Commission (EC) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA).
ESA coordinates the delivery of data from upwards of 30 satellites. The EC, acting on behalf of the European Union, is responsible for the overall initiative, setting requirements and managing the services.
ESA is developing a new family of satellites, called Sentinels, specifically for the operational needs of the Copernicus programme. At present, three complete two-satellite constellations are in orbit plus an additional single satellite, Sentinel-5P.
The Sentinels will provide a unique set of observations, starting with the all-weather, day and night radar images from Sentinel-1A and -1B, launched respectively in April 2014 and April 2016.