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Further Information on CEOS
Further Information on CEOS

A.1 Overview

CEOS was created in 1984, in response to a recommendation from a panel of experts on remote sensing from space, under the aegis of the Economic Summit of Industrialised Nations Working Group on Growth, Technology and Employment. This group recognised the multidisciplinary nature of satellite Earth observation and the value of coordination across all proposed missions.

CEOS combined the previous groups for Coordination on Ocean Remote Sensing Satellites (CORSS) and Coordination on Land Observation Satellites (CLOS), and established a broad framework for coordinating all spaceborne Earth observation missions.

A.2 Purpose

CEOS coordinates civil spaceborne observations of Earth. Participating agencies strive to address critical scientific questions and to avoid planning satellite missions which overlap each other unnecessarily.

CEOS has three primary objectives in pursuing this goal:

— To optimise benefits of spaceborne Earth observations through cooperation of its members in mission planning and in development of compatible data products, formats, services, applications and policies;

— To serve as a focal point for international coordination of space-related Earth observation activities;

— To exchange policy and technical information to encourage complementarity and compatibility of observation and data-exchange systems.

A.3 Participants

Members: Governmental organisations that are international or national in nature and are responsible for a civil spaceborne Earth observation programme that is currently operating or has reached Phase-B or its equivalent stage of system development, are eligible for membership in CEOS.

Associates: CEOS Associates are either:

— Governmental organisations that are international or national in nature and currently have a civil space-segment activity in Phase-A/pre-Phase-A, or an equivalent stage of system development, or a significant ground segment activity that supports CEOS objectives; or

— Other existing satellite coordination groups and scientific or governmental bodies that are international in nature and currently have a significant programmatic activity that supports CEOS objectives.

spacer A.4 CEOS Plenary

Currently, 30 member space agencies, along with 22 other national and international organisations, participate in CEOS planning and activities. Participating agencies meet in plenary session annually, with activities and coordination occurring throughout the year. The Plenary reviews progress on the various projects and activities being undertaken within CEOS. The Chair of CEOS rotates at the annual plenary meeting. The CEOS Chair for 2012 is the Indian Space Research Organisation. For 2013, the Canadian Space Agency will undertake CEOS chairmanship.

CEOS History.


A.5 CEOS Secretariat

A permanent Secretariat, chaired by the current CEOS host organisation, provides most of the coordination between plenary sessions and is maintained by:

−  the European Space Agency (ESA) jointly with the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (Eumetsat);

−  the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) jointly with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States;

−  the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) jointly with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

The Secretariat is chaired by the current CEOS host organisation in support of the CEOS Plenary. As part of the ongoing contribution to CEOS Secretariat activities, ESA is responsible for the CEOS Handbook, NASA for the CEOS Web site content, and MEXT/JAXA for the CEOS Newsletter.

USGS and NOAA currently fund the engagement of two full-time posts to increase the capacity of the CEOS Secretariat, particularly with regards to the relationship with GEO. These posts, the CEOS Executive Officer and Deputy, have proven to be an important contribution to increased capacity for CEOS coordination activities.

A.6 CEOS Working Groups

Working Group on Calibration and Validation (WGCV):
The objectives of the WGCV are to enhance coordination and complementarity, to promote international cooperation, and to focus activities in the calibration and validation of Earth observations for the benefit of CEOS members and the international user community. WGCV addresses sensor-specific calibration/validation and geophysical parameter/ derived products validation. WGCV meets approximately every nine months.

The subgroups of WGCV are as follows:

— The Infrared and Visible Optical Sensors Subgroup;

— The Microwave Sensors Subgroup;

— The SAR Subgroup;

— The Terrain Mapping Subgroup;

— The Land Product Validation Subgroup;

— The Atmospheric Chemistry Subgroup

Working Group on Information Systems and Services (WGISS): The objective of WGISS is to facilitate data and information management and services for users and data providers in dealing with global, regional, and local issues. In particular, it addresses the capture, description, processing, access, retrieval, utilisation, maintenance and exchange of spaceborne Earth
observation data and supporting ancillary and auxiliary data and information, enabling improved interoperability and interconnectivity of information systems and services. WGISS meets approximately every six months.

There are two subgroups of WGISS: ‘Technology and Services’, and ‘Projects and Applications’. WGISS also features a number of Interest Groups and Projects:

— The Web Services Interest Group: a forum for exchange of technical information and lessons- learned experience about Web services and other WWW / Internet-related software technologies;

  — The GRID Interest Group: comprising leading agencies and institutions all over the world to develop distributed informational systems on the base of GRID technology for Earth observation data processing;

— The Sensor Web Interest Group: provides recommendations and support to CEOS relating to sensor web technologies;

— The Data Stewardship Interest Group: to enable the sharing of agency investigations, developments, and lessons-learned relating to EO data stewardship;

— The WGISS Architecture and Data Contributions Project: facilitates the development, availability, harmonization and access to data, metadata and products commonly required across diverse societal benefit areas, including base maps, land-cover data sets,andcommonsocio-economicdatafromWGISS agencies, and to provide inputs to improve the functioning of GEOSS to the appropriate GEO tasks.

Working Group on Climate (WGClimate): The mandate of this Working Group is to facilitate the implementation and exploitation of Essential Climate Variable time-series through coordination of the existing and substantial activities being undertaken by CEOS member agencies. The Working Group will:

— review and assess, on behalf of CEOS, the generation of Fundamental Climate Data Records and derived Essential Climate Variable climate products supported by Member space agencies, complementary with existing entities and roles;

— contribute to the review of compliance of satellite missions and products with the GCOS Climate Monitoring Principles and with the “Guideline for the Generation of Datasets and Products meeting GCOS Requirements”;

— identify multi-agency implementation teams for each product and review their actions, and ensure that a coherent implementation plan exists for each and every product taking full account of other pertinent international initiatives such as SCOPE-CM and science programmes;

— make recommendations to the above teams and receive recommendations from them, for transmission to CEOS Agency Principals;

— ensure coherence of climate product generation supported by space agencies, including with other relevant international initiatives, in particular SCOPE- CM.

Working Group on Capacity Building and Data Democracy (WGCapD): This WG builds upon the CEOS Data Democracy Initiative in an effort to increase the capacity of institutions in
less-developed countries for effective use of Earth observation data for the benefit of society and to achieve sustainable development. The WGCBDD will focus on and unify CEOS efforts toward providing wider and easier access to Earth observation data, increasing the sharing of software tools such as the use of open source software and open systems interface, increasing data dissemination capabilities, transferring relevant technologies to end users, and providing intensive capacity building, education and training.

Newly established in 2011 as an evolution of the CEOS Working Group on Education, this WG seeks to establish effective coordination and partnership among CEOS agencies and institutions offering education and training in Earth Observation. It will also will work closely with CEOS entities to increase data accessibility, especially in under-served communities.

CEOS Structure.

A.7 Strategic Implementation Team

CEOS has established a Strategic Implementation Team which is responsible for addressing implementation issues – notably those related to the space component of the Global Earth Observing System of Systems. The SIT provides a forum where the heads of space agencies can meet to develop agreements on programme commitments in order to address gaps or overlaps in mission planning. Progress towards the GEOSS space segment is monitored and managed using the CEOS Implementation Plan, which is maintained by the SIT Chair and updated annually for the CEOS Plenary.

From 2012 to 2013, the SIT is Chaired by NASA.

A.8 CEOS Virtual Constellations

The emergence of GEO/GEOSS brought a renewed energy and focus to CEOS coordination efforts, and with them the recognition that new tools and processes would be required for CEOS to be effective in delivery of results. It was in this context, that the ESA SIT team obtained agreement from CEOS space agencies in 2006 to implement a series of CEOS Virtual Constellations, with the goals of:

— making CEOS efforts more specific;

— providing a new planning process to inspire and manage broader participation in CEOS efforts by all space agencies – developed and developing;

— focusing CEOS outputs on the major needs expressed in the GEOSS Implementation Plan;

— seeking realism in coordination – recognising that individual agency needs and schedules will continue to dominate implementation – but seeking synergies and agreements on key issues to create optimal conditions for all agencies to contribute to a common objective (such as a Fundamental Climate Data Record or continuity of a certain data service).

Four prototype Constellations emerged from those initial discussions, serving as coordination vehicles in specific domains where continuity and combined data acquisitions were considered to be essential. Now in 2012, CEOS has seven Virtual Constellations in the planning or implementation phase:

— Atmospheric Composition;

— Land Surface Imaging;

— Precipitation;

— Ocean Surface Topography;

— Ocean Surface Vector Winds;

— Ocean Colour Radiometry;

— Sea Surface Temperature.

The Constellations are seen within the Earth observation community as having significant promise as a vehicle for focused discussions on harmonisation of programmes and plans of participating agencies in support of a common goal – be that continuity of observations for a particular operational community or in support of a particular Essential Climate Variable over many years. In 2012, CEOS is placing a renewed emphasis on use of the Constellations as a vehicle for delivery of physical outputs, such as ECVs.

A.9 CEOS Executive Officer

The post of a full-time CEOS Executive Officer (CEO) was agreed in late 2006 to bolster the resources available to CEOS. The post was initially funded by ESA and CNES. The Executive Officer is charged with ensuring the efficient conduct of the CEOS contribution to GEO – including the implementation of the response to the GCOS IP (Implementation Plan for the Global Observing System for Climate), the GEO Work Plans, and development of the CEOS ‘Virtual Constellations for GEOSS’.

The CEO and Deputy CEO posts are funded by USGS and NOAA respectively in 2012.

  A.10 Further Information on CEOS

As the societal services being explored by GEO start to develop and mature, the demands being placed on CEOS, being responsible for the space component of the GEOSS are increasing significantly. Major commitments are being asked of CEOS space agencies in support of annual global coverage of key parameters in relation to forest and agricultural monitoring, and in support of disasters, carbon cycle studies related to climate change and many others. This might be seen as the consequence of the success of promoting the value of satellite Earth observations, and CEOS is embracing these opportunities as far as
its capacity will permit. As SIT Chair for 2012, NASA is implementing a comprehensive programme of organisational review such that CEOS is structured, documented and equipped to deal with this new era of intensive activity, and to ensure that it can play its part in responding to these calls from society for satellite EO to deliver the promise that has long been promoted.

For more details on CEOS, refer to Or contact the nearest member of the CEOS

CEOS Secretariat (Europe, Africa)
ESA – European Space Agency – ESA ESRIN
via Galileo Galilei, 00044 Frascati (RM), Italy +33 06941 80567 (voice), +33 06941 80532 (fax)

Eumetsat – European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites

Am Kavalleriesand 31
D-64295 Darmstadt, Germany
+49 151 807 603 (voice), +49 151 807 866 (fax)

CEOS Secretariat (North and South America)
NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration
300 E Street, SW, Washington, DC 20546, USA +1 202 358 2066 (voice), + 1 202 358 2919 (Fax)

NOAA – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1335 East-West Highway, SSMC1, 8th Floor Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA
+1 301 713 2024 (voice), +1 301 713 2032 (fax)

CEOS Secretariat (Asia Pacific)
(Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology)
Satellite Applications and Promotion Center, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency,
+81 50 3362-4192 (voice)
+81 29 868-5987 (fax)
2-1-1 Sengen, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 350-8050, Japan

The CEOS Newsletter supplements the latest information available online about CEOS and is distributed internationally on a 6-monthly basis. Subscription requests should be sent to: