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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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Sentinel-3A Earth colour data released

20 October 2016

The Copernicus Sentinel-3A satellite has taken another step towards being fully 'operational' as the first data from its Ocean and Land Colour Instrument are made available to monitor the health of our planet.
French coast Mediterranean
Following its launch in February, the satellite and instruments have been thoroughly tested and fine-tuned - leading to this important milestone.