Developing apps to support ESA’s outreach activities

From 2014 to 2019 Progressive Systems worked in the Frame contract for social media and mobile applications development for Earth Observation ground segment and mission operations (Fast Prototyping). The Fast Prototyping contract aimed at enabling fast development of small (mobile) applications as well as software prototyping as a way to evaluate new technologies and concepts. This contract also pursued the objective of filling the gap between the general public and ESA by promoting the ESA’s Earth Observation (EO) missions and emergency and monitoring services, as well as by highlighting the importance of EO data for the scientific community.

Progressive Systems was part of a Consortium with other four companies: Solenix Deutschland GmbH (DE), Terrasigna Srl (RO) (previously ASRC Srl), GISAT s.r.o. (CZ) and Qualteh JR Srl (RO) and performed the roles of independent testing and evaluation, ESA interface and delivery management.

Many mobile apps and software have been developed over five years:

  • Sentinel App, a mobile app to promote the Copernicus Sentinel missions;
  • Educational App for EO, a mobile app to visualize derived global products and teach their meaning;
  • Near-real-time Image Viewing App for third-party optical missions, a mobile app to visualize in near real time the Landsat-8 quicklooks;
  • ESA EO Datasets App, a mobile app to access ESA catalogues;
  • EO Missions (PDGS) App, a mobile app to describe the Ground Segment of Sentinels missions;
  • SAR False Color prototype, a tool to combine the SAR bands of Sentinel-1 data and derive RGB quicklooks;
  • My Vegetation App, for the promotion of the Proba-V mission and its derived products (e.g. NDVI, LAI, LST,..);
  • Data Visualization Study, to develop innovative ways of visualizing the amounts of data generated by ESA satellites;
  • AMS-TEP, a prototype of an Accounting and Monitoring System for Thematic Exploitation Platforms;
  • Big Data from Space Conference App;

During the project a collaboration with NASA on the development of the Web WorldWind framework and its use for building ESA demos and applications was also kicked-off.

Among the multiple activities one in particular had a great success among the general public: the Sentinel App. For this reason, the European Commission funded a new contract dedicated to the Copernicus Apps. The contract name is ‘Maintenance and Evolution of the Copernicus Apps for Mobile Devices’ and started in the 2017 and it is ongoing. The Consortium as well as the role of Progressive Systems remained unchanged.

Sentinel App increased its functionality becoming a multi-purpose tool for promotion but also a useful tool for the scientific community. Moreover, a new mobile App has been developed: the Copernicus Eye, to promote the Copernicus Services and the derived data provided by these services.

Figure 1: The Copernicus Sentinel App