National Collaboration to Strengthen Australia Europe Ties for the Sentinel Missions

The Copernicus programme, and the Sentinel missions in particular, have been identified as a high priority by the Australian EO community.

In October 2014, officers from the Australian Government met with senior European Commission officials to discuss how Australia could support the EC to achieve its objectives for the programme. This meeting was productive and discussions on a future partnership are advanced, and continuing. Inevitably, these discussions are confidential. A full update will be provided to the community as soon as possible. The discussions are being informed by input provided by the Australian EOS community over recent months and years.

One of the potential areas in which Australia could support the European Commission is to facilitate efficient access and use to Sentinel data. The enormous volumes of data that the programme will generate about Australia and the region present technical challenges that must be overcome if the potential value of the data is to be unlocked.

During consultation in 2014, the option of establishing a regional data access/processing hub for Sentinel data was identified as one way of providing support in this area. A number of governments have expressed in interest in supporting such a facility, which would support uptake by the research community, governments and industry.

In December 2014, the governments that had expressed an interest in supporting such a facility convened an initial workshop in Sydney, hosted by NSW OEH.

At that workshop, a ‘mud map’ for how such a facility could work was discussed. The value of a national approach to the ingestion (from Europe), archival, pre-processing and re-distribution (e.g. to support industry, regional users) of data was recognised. The need for collaboration across layers of government, and with the broader EO community, was recognised.

The meeting was a productive first step and further discussions, including on how such a facility could be funded and how to ensure the community is engaged in the process, are now underway through a study jointly funded by the Australian Government, Queensland Government, Western Australian Government and New South Wales Government.