When the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2B satellite joins its 2A twin in orbit next year, the project’s volume of data in the form of images of the Earth’s surface will soar to up to two petabytes annually.
To cope with that data growth, ESA has just expanded the 2013 contract it awarded Spanish company Indra to take it up to 2020 and to include data management for the twin satellites.
Robust long-term global records of essential climate variables, such as warehouse gas concentrations, sea-ice extent and thickness, and sea-surface temperature and salinity, are crucial to understanding and mitigating the consequences of climate change.
Europe’s eyes in space focused on Earth are provided by the Copernicus program, headed by the European Commission in partnership with ESA, which coordinates the delivery of data from upwards of 30 satellites. Among them are the Sentinels, which provide a unique set of observations that need to be processed and archived.
ESA’s initial 2013 contract with Indra used the company’s facilities at San Fernando de Henares, 15km from Madrid, as one of the main data-processing and archiving centers, or PACs, for the Sentinel-2A satellite mission’s ground segment.
When both satellites are in operation, the Sentinel-2 mission will be capable of obtaining complete coverage of the Earth’s land surface every five days — or 10 days when only one satellite is in operation — with a spatial resolution of up to 10 meters. The information supplied by these images will be especially useful in the fields of agriculture and environmental management.
According to Rosana Romero, head of Sentinel PAC project at Indra, the company’s experience in missions such as Helios, SMOS, and Ingenio, and in providing similar services to other clients, as well as the various projects funded by ESA Earth Observation department, have had a significant bearing on ESA’s decision to award it the expanded contract.