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Who will have access to Copernicus and according to which criteria?

Primary users of Copernicus are public policy-makers, public bodies responsible for environment and security maters, and business operators. However, access will not be limited to these users and the data and information provided by Copernicus will be accessible in principle to any citizen.

A few exceptions will however exist in some specific situations where security is at stake. In such cases, a limited access should probably be envisaged.

Practically, Copernicus information will be provided to users through a set of services, most of them being available online.

The Copernicus Programme covers six thematic areas: land, marine, atmosphere, climate change, emergency management and security.

Who will provide Copernicus services?

The service provision model that will be implemented for the delivery of Copernicus services is not defined yet. Its definition will be part of the governance model that will be adopted for Copernicus.

To date, the entities that will act as "service providers" for the future operational Copernicus services are therefore not known.

For the time being, Copernicus services are provided by Consortia selected by the European Commission. These Consortia include organisations coming from both the public and private sectors.

Will Copernicus services be fully free-of-charge for users? Who will pay for Copernicus Services?

Copernicus services whose implementation and operation are supported by public funding at the European level will fall into the regime defined by the Copernicus governance. Considered as "public goods", a full and open access to these services will be organised. Data from the Sentinels will be free of charge to users.

Downstream services correspond to those services that will be implemented outside the scope of the Copernicus governance and without EU public funding. They will be developed by public or private operators with the objective to meet specific needs (e.g. specific to a group of user, location-specific, etc.).

Downstream services will provide their users with added-value by combining the information provided by the Copernicus services with additional data (e.g. socio-economic data). Depending on the business model adopted by each service provider, these downstream services could be either free for the final user (e.g. funding through advertising) or associated to a fee (e.g. pay-per-use, recurrent fee, etc.).

When will Copernicus services be available?

Copernicus services entered into "initial operations" (IO) in 2011 with the objective to be fully operational by 2014.

The land monitoring service and the mapping component of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (GIO EMS - Mapping) are now operational.

The Marine Monitoring Service and Atmosphere Monitoring Service are delivered in a pre-operational way.

The Security Service and Climate Change Monitoring Service are still in a development phase.

The availability of downstream services (i.e. value-added services based on the above-mentioned Copernicus services) will depend on the maturity of the Copernicus services and on the business plans of future downstream providers.

Why is the programme named Copernicus?

By choosing the name Copernicus we are paying homage to a great European scientist and observer: Nicolaus Copernicus. The Copernicus theory of the heliocentric universe is considered by many to be the main precursor of modern science.

Copernicus opened to man an infinite universe, previously limited by the rotation of the planets and the sun around the Earth, and created a world without borders.

Humanity was able to benefit from his insight and this set in motion the spirit of scientific research which allowed us to have a better understanding of the world we live in.

A few key dates in Copernicus' (and Galileo's) life.