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EO-1-2014 - New ideas for Earth-relevant space applications

Specific challenge:

Space systems produce information which often cannot be acquired in any other way. Specifically, the Copernicus data, including the Contributing Missions (current and future), are expected to provide improved data quality, coverage and revisit times, and increase the value of Earth Observation data for scientific work and future emerging applications. Equally, space data obtained for specific purposes can subsequently reveal novel scientific insights which were not specifically intended or expected at the time of space sensor launch. Explorer missions, e.g. at ESA, generate new remote sensing opportunities. In order to fuel this cycle of discovery, and further enhance scientific, operational and commercial exploitation of collected space data related to Earth (now or in the near future), new upstream data products and analysis methods suitable for subsequent integration into applications (such as for instance conducted in the calls of the Horizon 2020 societal challenges, or service product lines) should be generated. In this context space data (i.e. remotely-sensed data as well as in-space located measurements, gravity data, magnetic data, GNSS signals) could be relevant to a wide variety of Earth-related topics (relevant to earth environment, atmosphere, agriculture, land use, risk, emergency management, security, cultural heritage and archaeology etc.), thereby widening the data scope beyond conventional EO images.


New and hitherto immature uses of Earth-relevant space-based data (also taking into account specific satellite sensor acquisition modes) should be investigated to enable integration or assimilation into scientific investigations related to Earth system sciences, or forecasting models at regional or wider geographical extent. Attention should be given to space based data covering geographic areas sensitively affecting the earth system, as is the case for instance for the Arctic and Antarctic regions. When considering inclusion of space based data, consideration should also be given to the near real-time access opportunities offered by state of the art and next generation space/satellite communications capabilities.

It is expected that proposals address also how the insights proposed to be obtained from space based data can be validated, e.g. in combination with ground based observations, or in-flight collected data, with appropriate attention also being given to calibration of space data. Research into specification of the uncertainties associated with the derived results should also be included. To enhance the use of intermediate and final products, due attention is also to be given to standardisation of data, best practices, dissemination mechanisms and reference frames. Furthermore, to enable integration into operational services such as Copernicus requires highly automated processes with minimum manual intervention to be developed.

Preference shall be given to the usage of data from space-borne European instruments. In case such European data exists, the primary use of non-European data shall be justified by the applicant. Proposers may thus find it helpful to consult information on availability of Copernicus Sentinel Data, access to Copernicus Contributing Mission data, at the Commission’s web

The Commission considers that projects requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 2 and 3 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:

Proposals are expected to prepare the ground for further innovative exploitation of European space data in scientific activities and/or future and emerging applications.

Proposals are expected to have a significant impact in stimulating wide and further exploitation of the used data, be it in scientific or commercial use, or operational services. The application potential of these new data products and concepts will have to be demonstrated through selected examples and demonstration cases. The results shall be actively disseminated in the relevant scientific publications, as well as towards potential user communities as appropriate. For operational exploitation, the needs of the user community are expected to have been validated in order to ensure a positive impact. The research may deliver as well input for drawing up user requirements for enhanced processing tools or future observation instruments.

An important impact is also the applicability of the results for further systematic research usage, either in the context of the societal challenges addressed by Horizon 2020 calls, or research conducted in domains not covered in the scope of other Horizon 2020 funding areas. Results will therefore have to attain the necessary maturity to fulfil this promise. Specific commercial or scientific agreements for usage of results will be positively considered.  

Type of Action: Research and Innovation Actions.