On April 15, just days after Copernicus' Sentinal-1 sent its first images back to earth, the Copernicus Masters opened its application process for its 4th annual competition that recognizes outstanding ideas, applications, and business concepts based on Earth observation data.

For the first time the competition will be open to entrants worldwide, accepting submissions in eight application fields: agriculture management, emergency management, environment protection, marine monitoring, mobile applications, renewable energy, tourism/leisure, and transport/logistics.

The prizes aren’t too shabby either. There are eight challenge awards ranging in value from €3,000 to €60,000, with an additional prize valued at €80,000 being awarded to the overall winner, the Copernicus Master.

Previous winners include the Hab (harmful algal bloom) Forecast, SnowMonit (Monitoring snow and water) and SRRS (Satellite Rapid Response System).

The way we see the world is changing

Copernicus is an initiative spearheaded by the European Commission (EC) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA), and the European Environment Agency (EEA) to provide accessible earth observation data.

As part of this program, the ESA launched the first of five Sentinel missions on April 3. Sentinel-1 is already providing all-weather, day and night radar images that can be used to monitor both the land an ocean. The satellite is paired with a ground component managed by the EEA.

Once the five Sentinel families are launched, Copernicus plans to be able to offer data not only to Europe, but worldwide to assist in ocean, land and atmosphere monitoring, as well as emergency response, security and monitoring climate change.

“The launch of the first Sentinel-1 satellite marks a change in philosophy for our Earth observation programs,” says Volker Liebig, ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programs. “In meteorology, satellites have been providing reliable data for weather forecasts for over 35 years. With the Copernicus program we will now have a similar information source for environmental services as well as for applications in the security and disaster management domain.”

This technology opens up a range of business possibilities that the Copernicus Masters hopes start-ups, researchers, and students alike will explore in their submissions. Think you could use this new data to improve the world? You can submit your idea before applications close on July 15.

Sources: Copernicus, ESA