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The European Union Space Program Agency (EUSPA) was created in 2021 to become the operational arm of the European Union’s space ambitions. This means that they manage the commercialization of applications coming from satellites such as cartography, navigation and scientific missions. We spoke with Rodrigo da Costa, the Executive Director, about space trade in Europe and its contribution to the EU Green Deal.

What benefits can citizens expect from European space commerce in the near future?

Space is the new technological revolution, and it’s changing the way we live, work and play. From the navigation system in our cars, to the landing of the last flight we took, to the map in our mobile phone – although we may not know it, the benefits of satellite technology are everywhere.

All smartphones sold in the European single market (since March 2022) use Galileo satnav signals. This improves the location of an emergency call, which will result in faster response times and more lives saved.

In other words, space is a solution – invisible infrastructure providing highly visible services.

How will the space business develop?

Annual sales of satellite navigation receivers are expected to increase from 1.8 billion to 2.5 billion devices between 2021 and 2031. The consumer, tourism and healthcare markets will dominate. Smartphones and portable devices account for 92% of receivers. More than 10 billion satellite navigation devices will be installed by 2031 worldwide.

In addition to the consumer market, the professional markets of agriculture, urban planning, cultural heritage and infrastructure will also contribute to the income stream.

Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled devices and applications, data-driven services, and the push for smart cities and mobility will drive increased demand.

In terms of Earth observation, commercial revenues are expected to double from around €2.8 billion to more than €5.5 billion over the next decade.

What role does space knowledge play in helping to protect our planet?

Copernicus Services monitors a number of key climate indicators, such as sea level, temperature and air currents. This data can then be used to help shape global climate policy decisions.

Through the Copernicus Climate Change Service, we provide past, present and future climate information to businesses and policy makers.

The European space program provides a wealth of climate information (see below).

Climate monitoring

The above image of the Norwegian fjords near Tromsø inside the Arctic Circle shows the effects of the intense heatwave that gripped much of Europe in June 2022. Darker areas of water indicate a massive dumping of sediment in the fjords due to melting ice.

Copernicus services are used to monitor climate change in environments such as arctic regions.

dust clouds

On June 30, 2022, one of the Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellites captured this image, showing the Saharan dust cloud engulfing the skies of North Africa, southern Italy and Malta. The storm is expected to persist and reach Spain in the coming days.

There have been several dust storm episodes in 2022 so far. They are bad for human health and also affect solar power generation by depositing sand on solar panels, limiting their productivity. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) provides forecasts to help plan the measures needed to limit the negative effects of dust storms.

EU space applications

Satellite navigation

Galileo is the European Union’s independent satellite navigation system. Logistics companies use it to track shipments, and airplanes use it when taking off and landing. On-board navigation is made easier by the fact that Galileo is more accurate in cities than traditional GPS (USA) and GLONASS (Russia) navigation systems.

Galileo also boasts of better security against hackers. Resilience ensures quality and reliability. Besides navigation services, Galileo also supports search and rescue beacons for people in distress.

Designed and built in Europe, Galileo has a considerable impact on European and global trade. Already, the next generation of Galileo satnav is being planned.

climate science

The Copernicus Earth observation program is widely used for climate change science.

The Sentinel and other satellites are capable of monitoring temperature and sea level conditions on Earth as well as other climate measurements. This data can then feed into global climate policy decisions.

“Because the oceans are taking up carbon, their temperatures are increasing, which has a whole host of ripple effects,” da Costa said, “including sea level rise, changes in the migration of fish, the disappearance of coral reefs and changes in the world’s climate patterns.

The EU space program also plays a role in limiting the impact of climate change on the Arctic environment. For example, the precise navigation offered by Galileo can optimize maritime routes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption.

Follow the link to find out how key climate indicators are monitored by the Copernicus Marine and Climate Change services.

Emergency assistance

The Copernicus Emergency Management Service (EMS) provides information for emergency response to disasters, natural or man-made. Whether it’s fires, floods, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes or other disasters, emergency services can use the rapid mapping service to get very detailed field conditions.

“Last summer, when forest fires swept through Greece, public authorities called on EMS Copernicus to monitor the situation,” da Costa said. “When floods hit Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (also in 2021), satellites provided rescue teams with the very precise positioning and navigation they needed to save lives. “

The research in this article was funded by the EU. This article was originally publishedin Skylinethe european magazine for research and innovation.


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