lake mackay australia Sentinel-2B copernicus
Australia’s Lake MacKay as seen in a modified satellite image from the Copernicus program's Sentinel-2B in March. Credit: ESA

LONDON — A 15 million euro ($17.8 million) contract to build one of the five Copernicus Data and Information Access Services (DIAS) platforms has been awarded by the European Space Agency to a Polish-led consortium — the biggest ESA deal the ex-communist country closed since having joined the agency in 2012.

The consortium, led by Creotech Instruments but also including Polish cloud provider CloudFerro and the Wroclaw Institute of Spatial Information and Artificial Intelligence, is among four contract recipients, each of which will build a separate DIAS platform.

The other three contracts went to consortia led by Serco, ATOS Integration and Airbus. A fifth platform will be built by Eumetsat in cooperation with the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts and Mercator Ocean.

The DIAS platforms will provide cloud-based one-stop-shops gathering all Copernicus data, as well as data from other contributors, in one place. The platforms will also provide data processing tools for researchers and entrepreneurs interested in building products using the data.

The consortium led by Serco includes also French cloud computing company OVH, software developer GAEL Systems and Slovenian geographical information systems developer Sinergise.

ATOS Integration partners include Germany’s space agency DLR, communications and IT services firm T-SYSTEMS, Thales Alenia Space, eGEOS, EOX, GAF and Spacemetric.

The Airbus-led consortium has as partners network operator Orange, professional services and business consulting corporation Capgemini, CLS and Vito.

The European Commission, which manages Copernicus through ESA, tasked the agency earlier this year to coordinate the development of DIAS in order to avoid the need to store the vast amount of data generated by the program in its own computer networks.

Copernicus has six satellites in orbit with further missions planned. The constellation generates as much data in one year as ESA’s previous Earth observation mission Envisat, which ended in 2012, would produce in half a century.

The DIAS platforms are expected to come online in the second quarter of 2018, according to ESA.

Tereza Pultarova is a London-based science and technology journalist and video producer, covering European space developments for SpaceNews. A native of the Czech Republic, she has a bachelors degree in journalism from the Charles University,...