Topic of the Day – Copernicus Programme

UPSC Exam Preparation: Topic of the Day – Copernicus Programme

Copernicus is the world’s largest single earth observation Programme and is directed by the European Commission in partnership with the European Space Agency. It aims at achieving a global, continuous, autonomous, high quality, wide range Earth observation capacity. It also provides accurate, timely and easily accessible information and among other things, improves the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change at the same time, ensure civil security.


Copernicus is based on two types of satellite missions,

  • ESA’s six families of dedicated Sentinel (space missions)
  • Missions from other space agencies i.e. third-party satellites, called Contributing space Missions.



  • India has joined Europe’s satellite data sharing pool. The arrangement makes provisions for European Commission to provide India with full open access to the data from the Copernicus Sentinel family of satellites using high bandwidth connections, free of cost.
  • Reciprocally the Copernicus Programme and its participating states will be provided full and open access to the data from ISRO’s land, ocean and atmospheric series of civilian satellites (INSAT 3 D, INSAT 3DR, SARAL, Scatsat-1, Oceansat-2, Megha-Tropiques) except for the commercial high-resolution satellites data, free of cost by the Department of Space.
  • The arrangement also includes technical assistance for setting up high bandwidth connections with ISRO sites, mirror servers, data storage and archival facilities.



  • The space-based information will be used for forecasting disasters, providing emergency response and rescue operations during disasters; to glean land, ocean data; and for issues of security, agriculture, climate change and atmosphere
  • 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.
  • Data provided can be used to build statistics and Topographic Maps


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. The Copernicus emergency response mapping system was activated on at least two Indian occasions — during the 2014 floods in Andhra Pradesh in October 2014 and after the 2013 storm in Odisha.


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