New ESA data assessment pilot launched
09 January 2019
For over 40 years ESA's Earthnet Programme has played a significant role as part of ESA's mandatory activities, providing the framework for integrating non-ESA missions, i.e. Third-Party Missions (TPM), into the overall ESA Earth Observation (EO) strategy. Complementary to ESA-owned EO missions, the programme allows European users access to a large portfolio of TPM and is particularly important for promoting the international use of EO data.
In line with the Earthnet Programme objectives, ESA aims to foster cooperation and collaboration with not only other national space agencies, but also commercial mission providers. In recent years the availability of small satellites and the innovation in the constellation arena have resulted in an increasing number of commercial companies who have established business models to provide information services fed by their own satellite systems.
These NewSpace players are now playing an important role in the EO international strategy. Some of these new missions are potential candidates for Earthnet TPMs and ESA has set up a project to assess the quality of their data and also to establish dialogues with the various mission providers in order to improve the overall coherence of the EO system.
This project called Earthnet Data Assessment Pilot (EDAP) was kicked-off on 23 November 2018 for a total duration of 2 years.
Giuseppe Ottavianelli, Third Party Mission Manager at ESA said: "The objective of EDAP is to foster interoperability across missions by supporting data quality assessment of new EO space assets and Cal/Val-related capacity building activities.".
The EDAP consortium, headed by Telespazio VEGA UK is aimed at the provision of various clusters of expertise to perform an early data quality assessment of existing or future EO missions from national or commercial providers, which may potentially become TPMs within ESA's Earthnet Programme.
The performed tasks are identified in close dialogue with the mission's owners given the sensitive and potentially confidential information related to data quality. Complementary to this support is a focus on the generation of methodologies and guidelines for training and capacity building with each mission provider in regards to performing efficient data quality assessments in preparation for future missions.
The Service Team setup for the EDAP activity has excellent coverage of the necessary expertise and skills requested by this activity, on both a technical and coordination level.
The team structure has been specifically tailored to address the unique characteristics of this service, but has also been influenced by the consortium's successful involvement in other similar projects and service contracts, such as inter-comparison exercises.