What is Copernicus Programme?

Copernicus Programme is the Earth Observation Programme managed by the European Space Agency (ESA) in collaboration with the European Union (EU). The Copernicus Programme was established in 2014, previously it was known as Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES). GMES programme started in 1998.

This programme enables high quality and continuous observation of earth. This is done with the objective of assisting the international organisations and public authorities of Europe to improve the quality of life of European citizens. It is estimated that the benefits of this programme to the economy of the European Union stand at approximately 30 Billion Euros, through 2030. Under this programme, the EU monitors the delivery of data from more than 30 satellites.

Aspirants can find information on the structure and other important details related to the IAS Exam, in the linked article.

Aspirants should begin their preparation by solving UPSC Previous Year Question Papers now!!

To complement your preparation for the upcoming exam, check the following links:

What are the Major Services Provided by the Copernicus Program?

The services offered by Copernicus Program is under the following domains.

  1. Atmosphere – focuses on 5 main areas; air quality, the ozone layer, emissions, solar radiation, climate forcing.
  2. Marine – focuses on marine safety, marine resources, seasonal forecasting, coastal and marine environment.
  3. Land – focuses on land cover, land use mapping, systematic monitoring of biophysical matter etc.
  4. Climate Change – scientists, planners, policymakers etc are users of this service.
  5. Security – provides support on border surveillance and maritime surveillance
  6. Emergency – Provides advance information on floods, fire, droughts etc.

What are Sentinels?

It is a family of satellites developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), to help in the operational requirements of the Copernicus Programme. The list of Sentinels is given below.

  1. Sentinel 1A and 1B – launched in 2014 and 2016 respectively. It provides all-weather, day and night radar images.
  2. Sentinel 2A and 2B – launched in 2015 and 2017 respectively. It delivers high-resolution optical images for land services.
  3. Sentinel 3 – It delivers data on land and ocean.
  4. Sentinel 4 and 5 – To monitor atmosphere from geostationary and polar orbits.
  5. Sentinel 6 – Provides information on oceanography and climate studies.

To know more about the Satellites which have been launched by Space Agencies in India, Candidates can visit the List of Indian Satellites and get a comprehensive list.

Has India Collaborated with Copernicus Program?

In the year 2018, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the European Space Agency (ESA) have signed an agreement on sharing data from the satellites. Refer to the following points given below:

  • ESA will share the data from Sentinel satellites free of cost, with their Indian counterparts and India will share data from its multiple satellites which are dedicated for observation of land, ocean and atmosphere
  • This collaboration between India and ESA will be used to gather space-based information, majorly, forecasting of disasters
  • The designated Indian Institutions will not just have the access to the data derived from Europe’s Six Sentinel satellites, but also of the other space agencies which are a part of the Copernicus Programme
  • India will also be liable to provide the access of ISRO’s atmospheric satellites to the participating countries

Copernicus Programme – Key Facts

Given below are a few key facts about the Copernicus Programme. This shall be helpful for candidates preparing themselves for UPSC 2021:

  • It is an extremely ambitious programme initiated by ESA and shall provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information for the management of the environment
  • The Copernicus Space Component forms the European contribution to the worldwide Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS)
  • There are six main categories which shall be the focus of study through the Copernicus Programme. These include land management, the marine environment, atmosphere, emergency response, security and climate change

The Europen Space Agency (ESA) has made great contributions in the field of Space study. One of these includes the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope in collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Candidates can know more about the telescope and its observations at the linked article.

Apart from the Copernicus Programme, major other National and Internation Missions have been launched till date, aspirants can know in detail about such programmes and missions in the links given below:

Giant Metrewave Radiowave Telescope OSIRIS-REx Mission
NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) JAXA’s Hayabusa 2
ISRO’s Earth Observing Satellite: EOS – 01 Thirty Meter Telescope

Multiple Choice Question

Consider the following Statements

  1. The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) is an intergovernmental organisation created through an international convention agreed by a total of 30 European Member States. It is headquartered in Darmstadt, Germany.
  2. The European Space Agency is an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states dedicated to the exploration of space, it was established in 1975 and is headquartered in Paris.
  3. The Baikonur Cosmodrome is a spaceport located in an area of southern Ukraine leased to the United States of America (USA).
  4. The National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) is the Brazilian government space agency. Its headquarters is located in Rio de Janeiro.

Choose the correct answer from the below given options

A) All the above given Statements are true.

B) Only Statements 2, 3 and 4 are true.

C) Only Statements 1, 3 and 4 are true.

D) Only Statements 1 and 2 are true.

Answer: D

Candidates can find the general pattern of the UPSC Exams by visiting the UPSC Syllabus page.

IAS aspirants must also note that questions based on space agencies, missions, and other related programmes are asked in the Science and Technology part of the syllabus. Thus, to get the latest UPSC Notes on Science and Technology, visit the linked article.

Frequently Asked Questions about Copernicus Programme


What is the Copernicus Programme?

Copernicus is the European Union’s Earth observation programme coordinated and managed by the European Commission in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA), the EU Member States and EU agencies. It aims at achieving a global, continuous, autonomous, high quality, wide range Earth observation capacity. Providing accurate, timely and easily accessible information to, among other things, improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change, and ensure civil security.

What are the three components of the Copernicus Programme?

Copernicus builds upon three components:

  • The space component (observation satellites and associated ground segment with missions observing land, atmospheric and oceanographic parameters). This comprises two types of satellite missions, ESA’s five families of dedicated Sentinel (space missions) and missions from other space agencies, called Contributing Missions
  • In-situ measurements (ground-based and airborne data-gathering networks providing information on oceans, continental surface and atmosphere)
  • Services developed and managed by Copernicus and offered to its users and public in general.

For any further exam updates, study material or preparation tips, visit BYJU’S.

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