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ESA has defined a new Earth Observation Data Policy which was approved by the ESA Earth Observation Programme Board in May 2010. The new data policy applies to the ESA missions, i.e. to ERS-1, ERS-2, Envisat, GOCE, SMOS, CryoSat and future Earth Explorer missions. It is derived from the full and open access approach established in the Sentinel Data Policy.

The revised ESA EO data policy defines two groups of Earth Observation datasets, both provided free of charge:

  • The free dataset includes the dataset collections available on-line. A user registration is needed for accessing the free dataset. Data access is provided in 2-3 working days after registration.
  • The restrained dataset includes the dataset not available on-line (i.e. on demand products or on-demand data acquisition). Potential users shall provide a project proposal for allowing ESA to define a product/ programming quota for the project. The notification of the quota is sent to the user after about eight weeks.

Access to additional datasets or services not addressed by ESA EO data policy can also be provided by ESA as follows:

  • Third Party Missions datasets : ESA uses its multi-mission ground systems to acquire, process, archive and distribute data from other satellites - so called Third Party Missions. Those data are distributed under specific agreements with the owners or operators of the mission. Third Party Missions datasets can be accessed by submitting a registration (for free datasets) or a project proposal (for restrained datasets) to ESA.
  • ESA campaign datasets : ESA has been running several airborne, ground-based, or balloon campaigns over different locations inside and outside Europe. The resulting datasets, available on Internet or media, can be accessed by registering a request to ESA.
  • G-POD (GRID – Processing On Demand): ESA is offering to scientists the possibility to perform bulk processing of their own algorithms exploiting the large ESA Earth-Observation archive together with ESA available GRID computing and dynamic storage resources, after evaluation of a project proposal .

For more information, please contact the Earth Observation Helpdesk Team.

Application mechanisms to ESA EO data




Earth Explorer missions

Envisat / ERS missions

Atmospheric Chemistry / Altimetry / Scatterometer MERIS / (A)ATSR

Envisat / ERS missions


Free dataset

Open and free of charge access to online datasets


User registration

(science or operational use)

User registration

(science or operational use)

User registration

(science or operational use)

Restrained dataset

Free of charge access to specific datasets not available online


Products quota defined after submission of a project proposal Products quota defined after submission of a project proposal Products quota defined after submission of a project proposal

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Copernicus Masters seeks new ideas for satellite data

10 April 2014

The fourth annual Copernicus Masters competition is just around the corner. Ideas for services, business concepts and applications based on satellite Earth observation data can be submitted starting on 15 April.
Copernicus Masters trophyCopernicus Masters 2013
Since 2011, the competition awards prizes to innovative solutions for business and society based on Earth observation data. With a prize pool of over €300,000 in cash prizes, technical support, data packages and business incubation, it aims to foster product development and entrepreneurship.