Ireland signs deal with ESA for access to near real-time Earth observations

13 Oct 2017

The Sentinel-5P satellite waiting for takeoff. Image: Stephane Corvaja/ESA

Ireland has followed up joining the ESO with an agreement to gain access to ESA’s latest high-tech satellite, Sentinel-5P.

Ireland’s ability to look up to the stars was greatly increased thanks to the signing of an agreement with the European Southern Observatory (ESO) this week, but its new deal with the European Space Agency (ESA) will enable it to look back down at Earth in unprecedented detail.

Following the launch of the satellite Sentinel-5P, the Irish Government announced that it has made a Technical Collaborative Agreement with ESA to use its Copernicus Earth-monitoring programme.

The programme was set up to provide services in six sectors: marine monitoring, atmosphere monitoring, climate change monitoring, land monitoring, emergency management and security.

This means Ireland will have access to near real-time data capable of offering benefits to urban planning, sustainable agriculture, biodiversity, forest management, risk management, tourism, mitigation of the effects of climate change, security, coastal monitoring and infrastructure management.

The technology on board the satellite that allows it to do so is called the Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI) and was developed by a consortium led by the Netherlands’ national meteorological agency.

From Earth’s orbit, it will be able to detect a variety of different gases, such as ozone, methane and carbon monoxide

The launch of this satellite now brings the number of Copernicus spacecraft to five.

An important day for Ireland

Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, and Research and Development John Halligan, TD, was at the launch of Sentinel-5P and described Ireland’s signing of the agreement as an important day for the country.

“This agreement will greatly support Ireland’s national strategy to maximise the value created from our investment in space-related technologies,” he said.

“Furthermore, the agreement will act as an important resource as Ireland continues to develop world-class skills in data analytics”.

Enterprise Ireland’s CEO Julie Sinnamon added that this will make Ireland more competitive in a post-Brexit Europe.

“Access to this near-real-time data will help to drive research and support the development of commercial applications and internationally traded services, and, additionally, inform national policy,” she said.

“Furthermore, the need for earth observation is becoming crucial and it is creating opportunities for Irish companies in the context of the need for public authorities to make more informed decisions in environment, security and climate change.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic