Portugal Space targets national potential users of Copernicus data

The Portuguese Space Agency aims to encourage the creation of new applications and services based on satellite data. The program, funded by the European Union, includes dissemination and training sessions and support for entrepreneurship.

The Ria Formosa coastal lagoon as captured by Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites. Ria Formosa is a protected wetland in the Algarve region in southern Portugal. It is a labyrinth of marshland, canals and islands that spans about 60 kilometres of coastline, covering a total of 16 000 hectares. It is a dynamic system constantly changing with the continuous movement of winds, currents and tides, considered one of the most important habitats for aquatic birds in Portugal. The Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellites deliver free and open data that can be used to monitor the status of ecosystems around the world.

Join the Portuguese network of Copernicus users

The European Earth Observation Program – Copernicus – is the central theme of a cycle of information sessions organized by the Portuguese Space Agency, in partnership with the  Directorate-General of the Territory and the Atlantic International Research (AIR) Centre, with the aim of expanding the user base, boosting the use of satellite data, and increasing the number of new applications developed from Copernicus data. Participation is free and open to all, but registration is mandatory and can be done through the website of the Portuguese Space Agency.

Organized within the Framework Partnership Agreement for the Use of Copernicus (FP-CUP), the first of three sessions will take place on 29 January and will have Services and Applications in the Marine Environment as its central theme (consult program here). “Although one of the main objectives of this cycle of information sessions is to increase the number of users and applications derived from the Copernicus program in Public Administration, as part of the FP-CUP program, in the Agency we want to be more comprehensive, and therefore we also open these meetings to academia, research centers and industry so that everyone can benefit from sharing the knowledge and advantages of the Copernicus program,” explains Carolina Sá, manager of Earth Observation projects for Portugal Space.

The FP-CUP is an initiative developed and funded by the European Commission, currently covering 48 partners from 23 European countries, including the Portuguese Space Agency, DGT and the AIR Centre.

The presentation of Copernicus and the various services provided by the European Union’s Earth Observation programme will be followed by a demonstration of the various applications. In this first session, applications related to the marine environment will be showcased, specifically port management, water quality, maritime pollution assessment, surveillance services, maritime and coastal protection, among others.

“The Atlantic offers enormous potential for Earth Observation applications in several areas. To promote a society based on the knowledge economy, it’s necessary to foster initiatives like this one, to promote knowledge about Copernicus, train the maximum number of users in the region, and promote their collaboration in international networks,” says Pedro Freire da Silva, CTO of the Earth Observation Lab at the AIR Centre.

Beyond representatives from industry and academia, experts will be present from national and international organizations such as the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), the Portuguese Sea and Atmospheric Institute (IPMA), and the Hydrographic Institute (IH).

“The presentation of case studies will serve to raise awareness among the different organizations of central and local administration, regarding the numerous opportunities that Copernicus’s data and services offer, to publicize the existence of European networks and communities that allow the exchange of information and experience in the use of the Copernicus program, and to bring the non-space sectors closer to the possibilities of the use of satellite data for each of them,” says Joan Alabart, responsible for Industrial Relations and Projects at Portugal Space.

The cycle of information sessions about the Copernicus program is part of a wider initiative that will include training sessions and support for the development of downstream applications in different sectors but also support for the promotion of SMEs and the promotion of innovation in the commercial Earth Observation segment, not only in Europe but worldwide. As a point of contact for the Copernicus program, the Portuguese Space Agency also wants to take some of these initiatives to African and South American countries.

The Directorate-General of the Territory will be responsible for implementing training sessions for entities in Public Administration, to build capacity in satellite image processing and the analysis of geospatial information of Copernicus. Mário Caetano, Subdirector General of the Territory, says that these actions will help in the definition, implementation and monitoring of public policies. “With these actions, we will be promoting a greater use of Copernicus products by the Public Administration, contributing to the capitalization of the investment that Portugal has been making in the construction of the Sentinel satellites and in the development of thematic information production services.”

In addition to raising the awareness of users, and broadening general knowledge, the first Portuguese actions taking place within the scope of the FP-CUP also aim to listen to the Portuguese community regarding their needs for satellite data, so that Copernicus can respond more efficiently to the different realities and interests of the most diverse users.

The next Information Session is intended to present the Land Services and Applications and is scheduled for February 5. Registration is already open.


[The FP-CUP project is funded by the European Commission under the Framework Partnership Agreement No. 275/G/GRO/COPE/17/10042]
Portugal Space
25 of January, 2021