EU and Japan to improve Earth observation data through Copernicus

18 Jan 2023

Sentinel 1. Image: ESA

As part of a recent agreement, Japan will provide the EU Copernicus programme with access to data from its non-commercial Earth observation satellites.

The European Union and Japan have strengthened their bond in space research by agreeing to share Earth observation data with each other.

In an agreement signed yesterday (17 January), the European Commission agreed to provide Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry with access to data and services from Copernicus, the Earth observation component of the EU Space Programme.

Japan, in turn, will provide the European Commission with free and open access to data from its non-commercial Earth observation satellites.

The commission said this agreement will greatly benefit Copernicus, which delivers near-real-time data on a global scale.

“[Copernicus] will benefit from a higher quality and greater precision thanks to the additional data obtained from Japanese satellites and in-situ sources,” it said in a statement.

As part of the agreement, both the EU and Japan will accelerate the use of satellite data for cooperation in several areas of common interest.

These include the long-term management of natural resources, monitoring of marine and coastal areas, pollution and biodiversity, climate crisis adaptation and global CO2 greenhouse gas monitoring, disaster risk reduction, and food security.

“The arrangement will boost the uptake of Copernicus data and services worldwide, and help to promote Copernicus as a global best practice and accepted standard internationally,” the commission said.

Pitched by the EU as the world’s first provider of ‘big space data’, Copernicus supports the management of the environment, helps to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis and ensures safety and civil security across Europe.

Similar arrangements have been previously struck with several major countries and blocs, including the US, India, Australia, Brazil, Ukraine, Colombia, Chile, Serbia and the African Union.

Last year, a sequence of images taken from one of the Copernicus programme’s satellites, Sentinel-2, revealed the impact a recent drought had on Europe.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic