A little insight into the world of the FIR project: learn more about the Copernicus Programme and the European Space Agency

Did you know?! The Copernicus Programme monitors our Earth taking into account six thematic areas, while the European Space Agency targeted Mars.

11. 07. 2022.


The creation and implementation of the Earth Observation Information System (FIR) was one of the largest projects in recent years, in which eNET also actively participated. The system produces and analyzes satellite images that can be used in many different areas, from public administration to agriculture. The project was implemented within the framework of the Copernicus Programme with the support of the European Space Agency. But let’s see what exactly they are?!


“eFöld” is no longer the future


The Copernicus Programme is coordinated and managed by the European Commission itself, and its goal is to meet local and regional needs with real-time data based on satellite and field observations. To this end, a whole family of satellites called Sentinel was developed by 2014, and twenty of such devices are planned to be put into orbit around the Earth by 2030. The deployed systems not only collect but also analyze the data, thus providing serious added value. The primary purpose of data collection and analysis is to observe the state of the Earth in six thematic areas: the atmosphere, sea, land, climate change, security, and danger.


Besides, Copernicus is able to provide assistance in important issues such as the management of urban areas, sustainable development, nature conservation, regional and local planning, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, health, civil protection, infrastructure, transport, mobility and tourism, and therefore the main users are primarily decision-makers and various authorities. Through the so-called “eFöld” portal, individuals can also access the service free of charge after customer gatekeeper identification, thanks to which we can easily check the condition of fields and forests, or the extent of plant coverage, in areas far from our place of residence. However, an important aspect is that the satellites can only see areas of ten-by-ten meters, so we cannot browse areas smaller than that.


ESA: Europe’s gateway to outer space


The aim of the European Space Agency (ESA) is to shape and manage European space activities in the spirit of development and the interests of citizens. ESA is not an organization of the European Union, so its members do not completely match the EU member states. It has 22 permanent members, including Hungary, and the non-EU members such as Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Some countries participate in the operation of ESA on a project basis (Canada) or in observer status (Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta, Latvia, Slovakia, Slovenia). Hungary is currently the newest member of the organization. We joined in 2015, since then we have participated in more than 60 projects and concluded another 114 contracts.


One of the organization’s important goals is to send European astronauts to Mars by the early 2030s, so of course astronaut training is also underway. This year, some participants will be selected for the programme by application – only the third time since 1978 – and according to the plans, the names of up to six, who have proved to be suitable out of the almost 23,600 applicants for the advertised position, will be announced this autumn. In addition, they also train reservists, which includes the Parastronaut Feasibility Project, which is also unique in the world. Those future astronauts with certain physical disabilities participate in this, who fully meet all criteria from a psychological and intellectual point of view, but due to their physical handicaps, cannot be taken into the same category as their able-bodied peers.


The main guidelines and developments are determined by the ESA Council, in which each member state has one vote, regardless of size or financial contribution. A total of seven sectors operates within ESA: Astronautics with headquarters in Cologne, Astronomy with headquarters in Madrid, Operations Center in Darmstadt, Earth Observation with headquarters in Rome, Space Research and Technology in the Netherlands, Space Applications and Telecommunications in the United Kingdom, and a Communication Centre in Belgium. Moreover, ESA also has a rocket launch station in French Guiana.


Image sources: freepik.com


Author: Luca Kiss