The ESA Heritage Missions Virtual Lab launches on EarthConsole®

A virtual space offering customized data processing services to harness the invaluable legacy left by the Heritage Missions, all accessible with a single sign-on: this is the ESA Heritage Missions Virtual Lab which has been officially launched today on the EarthConsole® platform powered by Progressive Systems.

The Heritage Missions consist of over 45 non-operational earth observation missions, including cornerstone ESA missions such as the European Remote Sensing satellites, ERS-1 and ERS-2, and ENVISAT. These missions acquired data from various optical, radar, and atmospheric instruments for over 40 years.

The preservation of data coming from these missions is of key importance for the ongoing environmental research on our planet. When combined with data from new satellites, Heritage Missions data provides a unique opportunity to look back in time and build long-term data series on a diverse range of applications such as climate change, sea levels, surface temperatures, melting ice, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, atmospheric composition, deforestation, urban mapping and much more.

The Lab has been established with exactly this mission in mind: to assist research centers and universities in gaining a deeper understanding of the evolution of Earth dynamics over time, by leveraging Heritage Missions data and related processors.

Our goal with EarthConsole® has always been to make it easier for users to access and utilize earth observation data. As we continue to expand and improve the platform, we remain committed to this objective. The new Heritage Missions Virtual Lab on EarthConsole® maintains the unique features of the platform, including the ability to co-locate data and the processing capacity. This reduces the impact on data transfer, and enables the completion of large-scale processing campaigns within the project’s specified time frame.

In addition, by entrusting the management of processing campaigns and IT infrastructure to our team of experts, researchers can focus entirely on their research goals without worrying about the technical activities.

We want to keep on providing researchers and scientists with the necessary support to achieve their research objectives on time and with minimal distractions.

Giancarlo Rivolta,
CEO at Progressive Systems

The Lab offers researchers and scientists a range of possibilities to process and analyze Heritage Missions data.

One of its key features is the Small Baseline Subset (SBAS) processor, provided by IREA, a scientific and technological research institute belonging to the largest Italian research institution, the National Research Council (CNR). The service generates soil deformation maps and time series from ERS and ENVISAT data. With this processor, users can choose to perform bulk processing campaigns (supervised by EarthConsole® experts) or on-demand processing tasks (independently managed by the user via the P-PRO ON DEMAND platform). Researchers can also receive expert support to integrate additional processors into the EarthConsole® high-performance computing environment.

The Lab also provides ready-to-use virtual machines for algorithm development, testing and post-processing analysis equipped with instant cloud data access, software for Heritage data analysis & visualization already installed and flexible computing resources and storage.

Last but not least with a view to supporting an open science approach, the Lab makes available a set of tools to network and share research results with colleagues, including a thematic forum, a repository of processed datasets, and a library with relevant publications and media for consultation.

If you plan to use the lab services for research, educational, or pre-commercial purposes, you may be eligible to submit a sponsorship request to the ESA Network of Resources. If your application will be successful, it would allow you to receive a voucher that may fully cover the costs of the services.

Interested researchers can register to the Lab by following the provided instructions to join and the forms available via the lab to request the services.

This is a project supported by the ESA Network of Resources initiative.

EarthConsole® selected as service provider for two OCRE funded research projects

EarthConsole® by Progressive Systems was chosen as the preferred service provider for two research projects awarded through the OCRE (Open Clouds for Research Environments) call for funding Earth Observation services. These projects required extensive processing campaigns for different objectives using processors from the SARvatore (SAR Versatile Altimetric TOolkit for Research & Exploitation) family of processors. These processors were integrated by Progressive Systems into the ESA Altimetry Virtual Lab on the EarthConsole® platform in 2021, following the previous ten-year experience as RSS G-POD operator at the European Space Agency.

With this long-term processing heritage, EarthConsole® was the clear choice for the research institutions leading the projects.

The supported projects

Project: CryoSSARinSAM+
Research Institution: Technical University of Denmark – DTU SPACE (Denmark)

The Polar regions are important to study for a number of reasons. In an era of climate change, melting ice is expected to accelerate sea level change. In the past, various research groups have processed the first 9 years (2010.07-2020) of Cryosat radar altimetry for the Polar Oceans independently, using EarthConsole® or using the G-POD On Demand platform computing services. To continue this vital timeseries up through 2023 and also extend the Polar regions coverage to all regions outside the 50 degree parallel, this project was established.

CryoSSARinSAM+ aims at developing a common processing chain configuration to produce a single, open-access CryoSat-2 altimetry mission dataset that can support radar altimetry research of the polar oceans (both for the northern and southern hemisphere).

This dataset will have a wide range of potential applications, such as studying sea level, circulation, and trends in ice-covered polar seas; improving algorithms to monitor coastal sea level; estimating the thickness of summer sea ice; measuring significant wave height in polar oceans; and enhancing measurements of winter sea ice thickness in the Arctic and Antarctic, among other.

We want this dataset to become a reference standard for the radar altimetry research community, playing a pivotal role in advancing our knowledge of the polar oceans and ice cover, and the impact of climate change on them. A number of research institutions have been onboard designing this study and will directly ingest these data in their ongoing research

Ole B. Andersen
Professor, Department of Space Research and Technology
Geodesy and Earth Observation

Project: Assessment of renewable wave energy resources in the coastal zone using high-resolution altimetry products
Research Institution: CENTEC (Centre for Marine Technology and Ocean Engineering), Instituto Superior Tecnico , (Associação do Instituto Superior Técnico para a Investigação e Desenvolvimento) – IST-ID, (Portugal)

The project’s primary objective is to evaluate the potential of wave renewable energy sources in the Atlantic Ocean, with a particular emphasis on the coastal region, where the energy can be efficiently harnessed. To achieve this objective, the project is processing the whole CryoSat, Sentinel-3A, and Sentinel-3B missions data over specific coastal zones and using an improved geophysical retrieval algorithm: SAMOSA+ (Dinardo et al. 2018, Dinardo 2020).

The datasets generated through this project are expected to have a multitude of applications, ranging from evaluating renewable energy sources to gaining a better understanding of the impact of waves on the rise of sea levels. We want this project to benefit the whole altimetry research community, this is why the findings will be shared as we complete the project

Sonia Ponce de Leon A.
Assistant Researcher
CENTEC-IST-University of Lisbon


Why EarthConsole®

EarthConsole® has been selected as the optimal service provider to perform the processing activities requested by the projects.

With the ESA Altimetry Virtual Lab (AVL) hosted on the platform, EarthConsole® provides the necessary services and solutions to cater to the specific needs of the altimetry research community.

The ESA Altimetry Virtual Lab is hosting SARvatore for CryoSat-2, SARINvatore for CryoSat-2, and SARvatore for Sentinel-3 processors, among others. These processors will be used to reprocess CryoSat-2 altimetry mission data (CryoSSARinSAM+) and Sentinel-3A & Sentinel-3B data (Assessment of renewable wave energy resources in the coastal zone using high-resolution altimetry products) on specific areas and periods of interests indicated by the research institutions.

EarthConsole® utilizes flexible computing resources such as Worker Nodes, CPU, and RAM, in combination with a quick access to data on a Copernicus DIAS infrastructure. This minimises the impact of data transfer on processing time, enabling scalable processing campaigns to be completed within the projects’ time constraints.

In addition, EarthConsole® experts will oversee all processing activities, freeing up researchers from the task of managing the processing campaign and IT infrastructure, allowing them to focus on their research goals.

In conclusion, EarthConsole® has once again demonstrated its commitment to providing innovative solutions that add value to altimetry research. With the needed processors, flexible computing resources, the quick access to the Copernicus datasets, and the right expertise, researchers can confidently pursue their research objectives, knowing that they have a reliable partner to support their efforts.


EarthConsole® on the OCRE Earth Observation Catalogue for Research

EarthConsole®, powered by Progressive Systems, has been registered in the OCRE Earth Observation (EO) Catalogue for Research and its offering may now be selected by EO funding for research winners.

OCRE (Open Clouds for Research Environments) is a Horizon 2020 project funded by the European Union that aims to enable and facilitate research institutions to use commercial digital services in a safe and easy manner.

EO and cloud-based services offer the European research community a wealth of powerful tools, but for many researchers, these are currently out of reach, with suitable services difficult to find and select.

The OCRE project wants to address this need by making it easier to procure both Cloud and EO services. The EO Catalogue is a key result of such a project which aims to create a digital single marketplace for commercial EO and Cloud services for research in Europe.

The Earth Observation Catalogue is a useful tool for EO Funding for Research winners to find validated cloud and digital services which respond to the research and education communities’ requirements, saving institutions the time-consuming and complex process of doing this by themselves. For each of the EO Funding for Research winners, at least three of the EO companies in the OCRE EO Catalogue will be shortlisted to choose from. Then, based on the requirements and criteria of the research project and the response from these suppliers, a provider will be awarded, fulfilling the minimum requirements for a fair procurement.

Find EarthConsole® in the catalogue!

Progressive Systems launches EarthConsole™

The all-in-one-solution to make the most of Earth Observation Data

An all-in-one cloud-based platform to assist researchers, innovators and service providers in optimizing the way in which they exploit Earth Observation data to analyse and keep track of our changing planet.

This is EarthConsole™, the new platform of Progressive Systems bringing Earth Observation data access, algorithm development, integration and processing services, analysis and visualization tools, powerful computing resources and high-speed network connections, all in one place. A comprehensive service which builds on the consolidated experience of the Research and Service Support (RSS) service Progressive Systems has operated for more than a decade on behalf of ESA, and which has supported hundreds of EO data users all over the world.

EarthConsole™ offers three main solutions:

  • G-BOX: an environment enabling users to develop and test algorithms, providing a virtual machine on a cloud infrastructure with fast access to Earth Observation data, customizable and flexible computing resources which is accessible from any location, any device and at any time;
  • P-PRO: the parallel processing service, allowing to process huge volumes of data in a faster and efficient manner thanks to a reliable cloud-based technology able to optimise the computing resources ;
  • I-APP: the application integration service of EarthConsole™, providing expert support to prepare software for integration in the Parallel Processing environment for massive processing.

All EarthConsole™ solutions offer a high degree of flexibility as they are customizable to a diverse extent on users’ needs.

The “Bring User to Data” has been one of key success factors of RSS and it will be a key pillar of the EarthConsole™ platform as well. But our objective with EarthConsole™ is to take it a step further and implement a user-centred evolution process. Users are encouraged to share their feedback, inputs and requirements on the platform with the objective of integrating these emerging customers-generated ideas into future developments of EarthConsole ™ .

declared Giancarlo Rivolta, CEO at Progressive Systems.

EarthConsole™ services are also available via the Network of EO Resources, a new ESA initiative enabling EO data users to procure and compare cloud-based services. Users with a research, development or pre-commercial project may receive an ESA voucher to benefit from EarthConsole™ services free of charge or at very advantageous prices.

Visit for more information.

Earth Observation Data Analysis Lab

EODA Lab, 5th edition of the lab for aspiring data scientists concluded

The laboratory entirely dedicated to Earth Observation data analysis recorded growing participation for the 5th year in a row

In May, the University of Rome la Sapienza and the ESA RSS service operated by Progressive Systems concluded with success the 5th edition of the Earth Observation Data Analysis – EODA Lab with a registered participation of more than 40 students. The Lab is one of the activities envisaged by the Master Degree in Data Science of the University of Rome La Sapienza dedicated to providing a solid and modern preparation in data analysis, including acquisition, management, and statistical analysis. In this frame the RSS Team has been collaborating with the University of Rome La Sapienza since 2017 to deliver a laboratory completely dedicated to Earth Observation data and more specifically to the Copernicus Sentinel missions.

Between April and May three different sessions have been organized on Sentinel-1, 2 and 3 respectively. For each module, a lecture was held on the specific mission, with a focus on the sensors, characteristics, orbit, data typologies and their main applications. Each lecture was followed by a hands-on session, where students practiced what they learnt during the lectures through the support of video tutorials. Under the expert guidance of RSS/Progressive Systems professionals, students exercised on applications such as:

  • (S1) SAR Interferometry connected to the Amatrice Earthquake in Central Italy; ship detection in the Strait of Messina and flood detection in Mozambique;
  • (S2) derivation of water and vegetation indexes, water masks extraction; derivation of maximum chlorophyll index in coastal water and supervised and unsupervised classifications;
  • (S3) vegetation and wildfires monitoring during the 2019/2020 Australian fire season, and composite analysis of the Mediterranean Sea Surface using multiple variables.

The laboratory was held completely online throughout a combination of webinars and video tutorials in full compliance with COVID-19 safety measures.

“We are very happy to observe the increasing success of the MSc in Data Science and the related EODA Lab, confirming year after year. Our students particularly appreciate the innovative approach of the Master which combines a multi-disciplinary theoretical background with a laboratory activity. The hands-on approach and the collaboration with the ESA RSS service operated by Progressive Systems is one of the reasons for the growing participation from 5 to more than 40 students in just 5 years. The MSc in Data Science and the course on Earth Observation prepare our students to enter the world of work with the competences needed by the industry to manage big data and uncover important insights on how our planet works”

This is what commented Frank S. Marzano, Professor at the Department of Information Engineering and among the pioneers of the MSc in Data Science at the University of Rome La Sapienza.

The University of Rome La Sapienza confirmed the interest in holding the EODA Lab next year as well and is already planning to introduce an important new feature: an entire module on Sentinel-5p, to make the didactic offer even more complete.

For further information, you can visit the webpage of the course here.

Progressive meets Society – Interview with Andrea Lorenzoni

“The exploitation of Earth Observation satellites data, as EUMETSAT and Copernicus, has been fundamental for us to develop services able to provide updated weather conditions to pilots of ultralight, general aviation aircrafts and drones, but also to users in the field of alternative energy saving and of the so-called “green environment”. The support received from expert EO organizations for developing our services has been essential and it will still be in the near future”.


The need to receive information on weather forecast and various environmental conditions is growing, also due to low-altitude increasing pollution which impacts clouds typology and visibility. These parameters are fundamental above all for pilots of general aviation aircrafts needing to receive updated and reliable weather conditions during air navigation. Earth Observation data can play an important role to compute various weather conditions as cloud composition, thunderstorms, strikes, rain, winds and their combination with other technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence can also help advance processing and analysis of such data.

For this new issue of Progressive meets Society, we have interviewed Andrea Lorenzoni, CEO at SpazioFuturo an innovative start-up offering services for general aviation, space, defence and security. In a short period of time, SpazioFuturo has received appreciation and important recognitions for its services based on satellite data exploitation. Selected among the innovative start-ups to be incubated within the ESA Business Incubation Centre for the innovative approach and great commercial potential of its services, recently SpazioFuturo has been recognized for its EMMA system (European MicroMeteorology for Aircraft) with the Best Maker Award of the Lazio Region at the 2020 edition of the Maker Faire, one of the biggest showcases of innovation and creativity globally.

Andrea Lorenzoni told us more on the journey of SpazioFuturo since its foundation and how Earth Observation data gave and will give a strong push to SpazioFuturo applications and services.

SPAZIOFUTURO is an innovative start up designing breakthrough solutions in the field of aviation, space, security and defence. How did you come up with the idea for SPAZIOFUTURO and how has your journey been so far?

AL: SPAZIOFUTURO was founded in Rome in 2014 as an innovative start-up with the purpose of developing and producing technologically advanced systems for General Aviation, Space, Defence and Security. Our initial idea was to offer a weather service for flight plan and during navigation to Ultralight and General Aviation aircrafts, through a satellite TLC connection, which resulted in our first autonomous research project in the aerospace field GABBIANO. Later on it evolved into EMMA, a service able to provide pilots of Ultralight and General Aviation aircrafts with meteorological data.

Nowadays we mainly focus on research and experimentation for the design of hardware and software products, services and advanced systems in the aerospace and alternative energy sectors using mainly Earth Observation satellites.

An ambitious start-up with an innovative idea which also put the basis for other important services. Can you tell us more about EMMA and the services you provide?

AL: EMMA offers a first solution to European pilots continuously requesting availability of aviation weather forecast data for flight planning and actual weather conditions updating during navigation. The service is specifically fitted for Ultralight flights (high geographical resolution, weather aviation data at various altitudes, etc) through a new airborne satellite modem and antenna, both tailored for this service and METEOSAT data to compute clouds and thunderstorms at various altitudes. In the field of Aviation, we have also developed AvS-Net, a service for meteodata distribution to build- up a national network including secondary airports and certified airfields. We are also active in the environmental monitoring with Green Meteo, an environmental and climate service pointed to national geographical areas to support all initiatives in the fields of alternative energy utilization (solar, wind,etc.), pollution reduction, agriculture precision, energy and water saving. A new service dedicated to the Mediterranean marine area is also under development.

A variety of services for a wide range of users, more specifically which is the target audience of the EMMA System and how are they benefitting from such service?

AL: Aviation weather forecast for flight planning and real-time data updating during air navigation have been always perceived by pilots as an important requirement. Specifically, the meteodata during the aircrafts flight, including approaching and landing phases into airfield and airports, is a very critical parameter, mainly for the safety of VFR (Visual Flight Rules) certified pilots. So, the target audience is mainly composed by pilots of Ultralight, General Aviation Aircrafts, users like gliders, aerostats, parachuting fields, flight schools, aeroclubs and drones. In addition, the need to collect and provide information on the meteorological conditions and various environmental conditions is worldwide growing, also due to low-altitude increasing pollution which impacts clouds typology and visibility.

Speaking of satellite data exploitation, can you tell us more on how you used satellite and how they added value to SPAZIOFUTURO solutions?

AL: The utilization of Earth Observation satellites data, such as EUMETSAT and Copernicus, has been fundamental for us to develop algorithms to compute various weather conditions as cloud composition, thunderstorms, strikes, rain, winds, visibility at those low altitude where the Ultralight and General Aviation pilots usually fly.
Many algorithms already developed, are now becoming applicable to the detection of incoming fog banks, which impacts airport traffic and functionality reducing time spent in the airports, travel time for passengers and goods, landing and take-off time. Furthermore, the detection of volcanic ash, natural dust and smoke is an additional feature. The atmospheric environment and visibility data are certainly suitable for Civil Aviation Authorities, for Airport Operations Management, for Meteorological Agencies. Now we are developing innovative algorithms, using machine learning and artificial intelligence features, to support the incoming worldwide environmental strategy in the fields of alternative energy utilization (solar, wind,etc.), pollution reduction, agriculture precision, energy and water saving.

How cooperation with key players in the space sector facilitated the access to and exploitation of satellite data?

AL: In our project EMMA, the cooperation with the ESA Research and Service Support in Frascati operated by Progressive Systems has been crucial, mainly during the initial phases to receive support and gain confidence with the exploitation of METEOSAT and Copernicus satellite data. We so learned to use extensively the Sentinel parameters for the development of many algorithms as the geolocated total columns of ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and methane, tropospheric columns of ozone, vertical profiles of ozone, geolocated clouds and aerosol information. The opportunity to acquire the support of Institutional Organizations such as ESA, ASI and LAZIO INNOVA for developing our services has been fundamental and it will still be in the near future.

Are you planning to use Earth Observation data for other SPAZIOFUTURO projects in the future?

AL: Yes surely. The evolution of new EUMETSAT satellites and the incoming launch of Copernicus will give a strong push to our existing applications and services, but will also open up new opportunities for satellite-enabled EO applications.

SPAZIOFUTURO has been established in 2014 and has nowadays a multi-year experience in the space sector. For a close, which piece of advice would you give to a young and innovative start up in 2021 that is taking the first steps in the sector and is willing to exploit Earth Observation data for their business?

AL: For young and innovative start-ups the first step to be taken is to acquire knowledge and confidence with satellite Earth Observation signals and to familiarize with the capability of mapping all the information which can be available from satellites. Collaborating with expert partners in the Earth Observation field can be of great help to start understanding how this information coming from space can give an answer to some real global needs.

To learn more about Andrea Lorenzoni

CEO of SPAZIOFUTURO, an innovative start-up since 2014, former manager at the Italian Space Agency (1989-2012) and previously in the Italian Air Force as Technical Coordinator of SICRAL, the national telecommunication satellite for mobile military services. Selected in 1978 as astronaut (payload specialist) candidate for Space Shuttle European SpaceLab flight.

Project Manager of two main Italian space initiatives, Tethered Satellite System (1984-1996), developed as per the bilateral agreement between ASI and NASA and MPLM -MultiPurpose Logistic Module (1996-2012), the Italian Component of the International Space Station (ISS). He also acted as National Representative in various European and International Boards and as Professor of “Ingegneria del volo spaziale abitato” at Scuola di Ingegneria Aerospaziale- La Sapienza University-Rome.

Our 2020 in Review

2020 was an out-of-the ordinary year but, despite the unusual challenges, here at Progressive we were able to achieve important milestones made possible by the commitment and dedication of our Team and our Partners. Such projects have laid the foundations for exciting initiatives coming up in 2021, which we are looking forward to sharing soon.

These are the key highlights of our 2020:

January and February

We continued assisting the growing community of Earth Observation Altimetry data enthusiasts, in the frame of the ESA Research and Service Support – RSS, the ESA service we operate since 2006 dedicated to supporting the Earth Observation (EO) community in exploiting EO data.

We kicked-off 2020 by putting together several processing services for Sentinel-3 and CryoSat-2 developed over the years by different PIs, under a unified umbrella: the SARvatore Services (SAR Versatile Altimetric TOolkit for Research and Exploitation) family. This collection of services enabled more than 200 users to get Earth surface heights over ocean, inland water bodies, rivers or ice sheets.

Figure 1 Fully Focused, Delay-Doppler and Conventional SAR Altimetry acquisitions.

March and April

Together with our partners Solenix, Qualteh JR, Terrasigna and GISAT, we released an updated version of the ESA Copernicus Sentinel App, the gateway to knowing the Copernicus Sentinel satellites. The App enables users to track the Sentinel satellite in orbit, search for products in a specific point over the 3D globe, visualize the latest product acquired from the satellite and save the searches. The new version is enriched with the possibility to browse Sentinel-5P products.

Figure 2 Copernicus Sentinel App – Acquisition of products feature over a specific area of the 3D globe.

Additionally, during the same months, we furthered our work within the Sentinel-3 Mission Performance Centre by contributing to increase the level of quality and maturity of the new Copernicus S3 Fire Radiative Power (FRP) product derived from S3 Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR). We supported the development of a new algorithm for the validation of S3 FRP SLSTR with the objective to measure with higher accuracy the radiative power of land and ocean hotspots (wildfires, volcanoes, agricultural burning etc.) over an area size of 1 km2 on our planet.

May and June

We successfully run the 4th edition of the EODA (Earth Observation Data Analysis) Lab in the frame of the ESA Research and Service Support. Through the EODA Lab we opened a window on the sensors, characteristics, and main applications of the Copernicus Sentinel 1-2-3 missions to aspiring data scientists attending the EODA course taught by prof. Marzano within the Master Degree in Data Science of Sapienza University of Rome.

Figure 3 Postseismic ground displacement map following the Amatrice earthquake (Central Italy, 2016) estimated using SAR Differential Interferometry technique applied to Sentinel-1 SAR IW SLC data.
Figure 4 Mediterranean Sea Surface Temperature Composite. Contains Copernicus Sentinel-3 Data (2020).
Figure 5 Supervised classification over the area of Lake Vico with Sentinel-2 images.

Alongside our activities in the education field, the work we performed in the two following projects has been featured in two new publications.

Part of the work carried out in the frame of the ESA funded project AIDEO (AI and EO Data Innovative Methods for Monitoring West Nile Disease Spread in Italy) together with IZSAM, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Abruzzo e del Molise “Giuseppe Caporale, AImage Lab (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia) and ReMedia resulted in a research paper titled [Vincenzi, S., et al. 2020] “The color out of space: learning self-supervised representations for Earth Observation imagery” accepted at the 25th International Conference on PATTERN RECOGNITION (ICPR 2020). The publication provided new insights into the development of effective deep learning techniques for Remote Sensing, proposing for the first time a novel representation learning procedure on a colorization-based method which allows users to overcome the lack of large annotated datasets for satellite images.

The second one [Cigna, F., et al. 2020] “Supporting Recovery After 2016 Hurricane Matthew In Haiti With Big Sar Data Processing In The Geohazards Exploitation Platform (GEP)”, features a work led by the Italian Space Agency aimed at investigating the generation of experimental scientific products of change detection and ground deformation monitoring that Haitian end-users can exploit to support decision-making process and recovery progress after the Hurricane that hit Haiti back in 2016. More specifically, the project exploited two processing services available in the ESA’s Geohazards Exploitation Platform (GEP) that were integrated by us in the context of the RSS service support provisioning.

At the same time the RSS team collaborated with La Sapienza University of Rome in the research project SMIVIA – Snow-mantle Modeling, Inversion and Validation using multi-frequency multimission InSAR in central Apennine addressing snow-deposits monitoring using multi-frequency multi-mission InSAR in central Apennine, by supporting the research team with the automation of the InSAR processing chain and with elaborations and expert technical assistance for the use of the RSS CloudToolbox service.

July and August

The first of August marked an important milestone for the ESA Research and Service Support service which entered into an extension phase until Summer 2021. The tasks we have been in charge so far will remain unchanged during this extension phase. We will continue to be responsible for the service operation and for providing research support by facilitating Earth Observation data exploitation, the development of new algorithms and the generations of value-added processing results.

In these months, we also laid important groundwork for three new Earth Observation tools which we plan to deliver as operational services in 2021:

  • Integration of ACOLITE (Atmospheric Correction for Operational Land Imager) in the processing environment, allowing for a simple and fast processing of coastal and inland water applications;
  • Development of CoDeMinT (Coastline Detection and Monitoring Tool) extracting and analysing shorelines from Landsat and Sentinel-2 imagery;
  • the Cloudy Earth Observation Time Series Restoration Tool, a working implementation of the algorithm proposed in [Bertoluzza et al. 2019] to restore the missing pixels of multispectral imagery time series acquisitions covered by clouds.
Figure 6 Chl-a concentration (left) Suspended Particulate Matter – SPM (right) from a Sentinel-2 image over Venetian Lagoon processed by ACOLITE in G-POD.
Figure 7 Intersections between user-defined transects and detected shorelines from Sentinel-2 images. Contains Copernicus Data [2017, 2020]
Figure 8 Original Image (left); Original Image with masked clouds (centre); Reconstructed Image (right)

September and October

Our team participated in the digital edition of the ESA EO Phi-Week, the ESA event dedicated to the latest achievements in Earth Observation science, technology and applications. We showcased the tools, services and projects derived from some of our latest research and engineering activities:

In the same period, the ESA/ESRIN contract “Maintenance and Evolution of the Copernicus Apps for Mobile Devices” was successfully completed. The contract, started in 2017, has rebranded and upgraded the Copernicus Sentinel App which became one of the most successful ESA mobile apps as of today, with 16 different app versions delivered over the years. In parallel to the evolution of the Copernicus Sentinel App, two new prototypes were also developed within the contract: the Copernicus Eye and the Copernicus Dashboard. The former visualizes information on land, atmospheric and ocean variables taken by The Copernicus Services. The latter is a web-base version of Copernicus Sentinel App. We played an important role as Customer’s interface and in the software independent testing and validation activities to ensure a proper functioning of the apps. The maintenance of the current features of the Copernicus Sentinel App is guaranteed, therefore it is still possible to download the most recent app release on the App Store and Google Play. Its newest features allow users to track the different Copernicus Sentinels directly from their ground position, browse new products for Sentinel-3 and Sentinel-5P through the search feature and download the different Sentinel products on the computer with the Sentinel Download Manager.

November and December

Figure 9 Graphical Abstract of the solution/method adopted in [Candeloro, L., et al. 2020]

The results of our collaboration with IZSAM, AImage Lab and ReMedia within the AIDEO Project were presented in a final review meeting with ESA. Combining past West Nile Virus occurrences, Earth Observation data and Machine Learning algorithms, the project aimed at putting in place a model to predict areas at risk of West Nile Disease circulation two weeks in advance.
The results were promising and represented an important first step towards the development of an early warning system that could support public authorities in better targeting surveillance measures for the prevention of West Nile Disease. Our contribution was focused on the generation and provisioning of Analysis-Ready-Data tailored to the artificial intelligence requirements, which considerably facilitated EO data exploitation and value-added information retrieval.
A conclusive AIDEO paper [Candeloro, L., et al. 2020] “Predicting WNV Circulation in Italy Using Earth Observation Data and Extreme Gradient Boosting Model” was also published in the MDPI Remote Sensing journal and is available here.

In the same months, the first phase of the validation activities for the new S3 SLSTR FRP nighttime product has been successfully concluded in collaboration with the S3 SLSTR Mission Performance Centre experts, and its results have been included in an interactive Web Application. The project officially entered its second phase: the development of the daytime algorithm is currently ongoing, the validation algorithm is being revised and updated accordingly, and the web application is being upgraded.

In the meantime, the RSS altrimetry processing services offer continued to expand improving accuracy and spatial resolution. The SARvatore service in G-POD now offers the possibility to include in output an additional product obtained with ALES+ SAR retracker, a waveform retracker for open ocean and coastal zone SAR altimetry data. The family of SARvatore services was enriched with a Fully Focused SAR altimetry algorithm for CryoSat-2 (FFSAR, developed by Aresys), which allows for a consistent improvement of the along-track spatial resolution (from about 300 m to order of meters), and the Sentinel-6 High Resolution L1A Ground Processor Prototype (GPP) processor.

Figure 10 Comparison between S6 low resolution and high resolution acquisition modes.

Over the last year the entire Progressive Systems team joined forces to bring to light a new platform for the analysis of Earth Observation Data which will be released in 2021 and that will incorporate some of the tools and competencies we have developed in 2020. This is Earth Console, a platform bringing Earth Observation data, algorithm development, integration and processing services, analysis and visualization tools, powerful computing resources and high-speed network connections, all in one place. A comprehensive service characterized by a great degree of flexibility allowing its users to exploit satellite data at diverse extent depending on their needs, from developing their own algorithm, to accessing specific know-how to scale up their application to massive data processing or wide service exposure.

Stay tuned and we really look forward to an even more fruitful 2021!

The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Space Agency, the European Union or any other space agency or entity mentioned in the text.

Figure in the cover image:
– Reconstructed Image using the Cloudy EO Time Series Restoration Tool
– Suspended Particulate Matter – SPM (right) from a Sentinel-2 image over Venetian Lagoon processed by ACOLITE in G-POD.
– Shapefiles of the coastline for different acquisition times obtained with CoDeMinT.
– Path followed by 2016 Hurricane Matthew and detailed satellite view before it struck southwestern Haiti (credit NOAA/ NHC – NASA);
– Comparison between S6 low resolution and high resolution acquisition modes (RSS altimetry processing service)
Earth Console Monitoring Dashboard
– Tracking from Ground feature of the Copernicus Sentinel App

The “Maintenance and Evolution of the Copernicus Apps for Mobile Devices” contract successfully completed

The Consortium which developed one the most downloaded ESA mobile apps shared project results in a final presentation

Funded by the EU and ESA

During a final presentation held online on the 10th of November, the Consortium led by Solenix and composed by Progressive Systems, Qualteh JR, Terrasigna and GISAT presented the results achieved over the last three years in the frame of the ESA/ESRIN contract “Maintenance and Evolution of the Copernicus Apps for Mobile Devices”. The project kicked off back in 2017, has rebranded and upgraded the Copernicus Sentinel App which enables users to track the Copernicus Sentinels satellites in real-time, discover their key elements, read the latest news and learn more about their products. Downloaded and installed on more than 56k devices, the Copernicus Sentinel App is one of the most successful ESA mobile apps as of today. Such a success is given by the fact that the Consortium delivered 16 different versions of the App over the years including newer functionalities which were able to increasingly meet the needs of both a specialized and general audience. As a proof of this transversal interest, the Copernicus Office used the App for diverse promotional and educational purposes. At the same time, its features would also allow more expert users to download Sentinel data on one’s device and trigger a processing of the products from the App.

The latest update of the app released on the 29th of October is available free of charge on the Apple store and Google Play and allows users to:

  • Track the different Copernicus Sentinels directly from your position and with your phone;
Tracking from Ground
  • Browse new products for Sentinel-3 and Sentinel-5P through the search feature;
Sentinel-3 products
Sentinel-5P products
  • Download the different Sentinel products directly on the computer (Windows or Mac). Users just need to install the Sentinel Download manager on their computer and select which data want to download from the App. The software and all the instructions to set up the Download Manager are available here;
Download Manager
  • Visualize atmospheric layers from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts – ECMWF such as Carbon Monoxide, Methylene Oxide, Nitrogen, Ozone and Sulfur Dioxide.
Atmospheric layers from ECMWF

In parallel to the evolution of the Copernicus Sentinel App, two new prototypes were also developed: The Copernicus Eye and the Copernicus Dashboard. The former represents a more modern version of My Vegetation App, the app dedicated to promoting the ESA PROBA-V mission providing information on vegetation as seen from space. The Copernicus Eye extends its functionalities to variables other than the vegetation ones such as land, atmospheric and ocean information provided by the Copernicus Services. The latter includes features similar to the Copernicus Sentinel App’s ones but on a web-based solution, readily available from a browser and targeting ESA internal users.

Given its experience and knowledge of ESRIN, in this frame Progressive Systems played an important role as Customer’s interface, collecting requirements and specifications emerging from ESA end users’ needs to be included in future developments of the apps. The company was also in charge of the software independent testing and validation according to defined guidelines to ensure a proper functioning of the apps.

While the maintenance of the current features of the Copernicus Sentinel App will be guaranteed over the coming period under a new contract with ESOC, the successful outcomes of the project may open up promising horizons for new developments to be explored in the future.

The views expressed herein can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Space Agency or the European Union

Copernicus Trade Marks in this communication are owned by the EU.

Progressive meets Society – Interview with Fabio Valentini

“When managing territories, decisions related to diversified actions, including environmental ones, need often to be taken. Earth Observation data can play an important role in providing valuable information about a territory, both to plan and act promptly in case of emergencies”


Public authorities in charge of territorial administration have to deal with diverse challenges, including environment-related ones, and need very often to take actions in a short time frame. For an efficient management of natural resources, local authorities are increasingly recognizing the importance of satellite data to receive information over an area at risk, plan in advance mechanisms to contain that risk, or – in case of emergency – receive promptly information to put in place effective coordination actions in a short time frame.

For the third issue of Progressive meets Society, we interviewed Fabio Valentini, Provincial Councillor of the Province of Viterbo and Council Member of the City of Montalto di Castro, who told us which are the environmental challenges the Province is currently facing and why satellite data can play a role in overcoming them.

The Province of Viterbo is an area rich in natural resources. Can you tell us which are the environmental topics and challenges at the top of the agenda of local authorities and why?

As you have mentioned in your question, the territory of the Province of Viterbo is characterized by the presence of many natural, cultural and archaeological resources. As a matter of fact, from an environmental point of view, each area of the Province requires special attention and awareness, being it a vast territory characterized by diversified environments and landscapes. To understand the variety of the area, suffice it to say that the Province extends from the Tyrrhenian coast of the cities of Tarquinia and Montalto di Castro up to the Cimini hills, passing by the lakes of Bolsena and Vico and many other territories. Each area has its own problems and needs. Just to make a few examples: on the coast it is important to monitor the quality of water and coastal erosion, given the presence of rivers and the risk of floods which have become more and more frequent over the years. Or for examples in some areas, the presence of the Mediterranean scrubland and woods increases the risk of fires, above all during summer time. More recently, the notable presence of monocultures such as that of hazelnuts in the area of the Lake of Vico and the related use of fertilisers and pesticides, raised the issue of pollution in inland waters. And also, the presence of industrial plants such as those for the production of electricity, requires attention in terms of monitoring air quality.

How do satellite data come into the picture to support the management of such natural resources?

When managing territories, decisions related to diversified actions, including environmental ones, need often to be taken. In ordinary circumstances, these actions can be planned, but in extraordinary circumstances such as in the case of emergencies, planning is not possible. In both cases, it is useful to be aware of as much information as possible about the territory. Earth observation data can play an important role in providing that information, both to plan and promptly act in case of emergencies, and they can complement information gained with more “traditional” technologies.

In your opinion, which could be the main implications and benefits of a proper exploitation of satellite data for the citizenship?

I believe that in the field of natural disasters, such as floods or fires, it is important to know the characteristics of the territory in advance in order to estimate and simulate the possible effects of these events which are very often dangerous for the citizenship. This is important above all for local competent authorities to put in place preventive instruments to contain risk. To make an example, in the case of fires it could be useful to have risk maps in order to estimate the potential impact of such events on the territory and on the citizenship, in order to allow to put in place mechanisms aimed at containing the consequences of such events as much as possible. I think that would be useful for other sectors as well, for example in the urban planning, agriculture, or landscape protection sectors, with the objective of setting up effective administrative actions.

Last year in the framework of the ESA RSS Service, we at Progressive met with a delegation of representatives of local authorities from the Province led by you, for an introduction to the potential of Earth Observation and its several applications. How much was important that meeting with EO experts and the collaboration established to fully understand the advantages that satellite data can bring to the work of public managers?

First of all, I would like to thank you for hosting the event and for your professionalism. It was a pleasure to contribute to the realization of this meeting, which was surely important for us, administrators of different municipalities in the Province of Viterbo. The meeting has been useful to raise awareness on the potential of the exploitation of satellite data and to raise the interest towards this world, unknown for the majority of us, and its applications in local areas. Some of the administrators are currently considering some applications resulting from the exploitation of Earth Observation data.

For a close, if you could turn a wish into a reality straight away, for which purpose would you implement a satellite data application for the Province and why?

It is difficult to identify a specific application, especially in the light of the multiple needs of the territory and the high potential offered by the exploitation of satellite data. For sure, monitoring water quality and coast protection, are both topics that catch my attention.

To learn more about Fabio Valentini

Fabio Valentini, born in Orbetello in 1981, holds a Master’s degree in Law at the University of Rome La Sapienza. He has served as chief executive in a service company for diverse years until 2013. From 2014 to 2017 he worked in the staff of the City of Fiumicino. In 2018 he has been appointed Vice President of the Province of Viterbo, where he currently acts as Provincial Councillor. In the City of Montalto di Castro, he also acts as Council Member for Healthcare, Civil Protection, Smart City and Information Services.

Progressive meets Society – Interview with Frank S. Marzano

If “Data science is the sexiest job in the 21st century” as often mentioned, then we may say that “Earth Observation is certainly the funniest”


The demand for professional figures able to manage and interpret the growing availability and complexity of data has been increasing rapidly with the advent of new technologies. Sapienza University of Rome was the first Italian University and one among the first in Europe to address this labour market need with the establishment of the Laurea Magistrale in Data Science back in 2015. The Master degree holds a direct link with the space domain, having enriched its offer with the Earth Observation Data Analysis Lab organized in collaboration with the ESA Research and Service Support service.

We have asked Prof. Frank S. Marzano, professor from the Department of Engineering at Sapienza University of Rome, how the Master Degree was able to attract a growing participation of students year after year and in which way the link with the Earth Observation domain contributed to such a success.

The Sapienza University of Rome was the first Italian university and one of the first in Europe to launch a Master’s Degree in Data Science back in 2015, can you tell us more about the work you do in this regard?

The Laurea Magistrale in Data Science at Sapienza University of Rome was one of the first in Europe, but the first in Italy. I was contributing to enlarge the offer to include Earth Observation (EO) into Data Science courses and students background.

Why was a Master’s Degree in Data Science needed back then?

The need of MSc in Data Science was due to the remarkable increase in the volume and complexity of available data and new technologies that have been developed. Processing them requires a combined multi-disciplinary approach to design an overall strategy aimed at transforming data into useful information. Key ingredients to develop a successful strategy are data manipulation and visualization, large scale computing, statistical modelling, learning techniques and algorithmic thinking.

How did the educational program evolve over time to keep pace with the technological advances in the field of data science?

The Laurea Magistrale in Data Science is a Master degree taught in English. It is a joint initiative within the i3S Faculty combining the expertise of four Departments:

  • Department of Computer Science (DI)
  • Department of Computer, Control and Management Engineering (DIAG)
  • Information Engineering, Electronics and Telecommunications (DIET)
  • Statistics (DSS)

This Master program provides a solid and modern preparation to understand and manage the multi-facet aspects of carrying out a complete data analysis, including acquisition, management, and statistical analysis. Its educational program benefits from this inter-department and inter-disciplinary approach to keep pace with the scientific and technological innovation.

The Master’s Degree is currently in its fifth edition and it has been receiving a very positive response with the number of students doubling year after year. In your opinion, which is the reason behind such a success?

The success is probably due to the innovative approach of this Master’s program in Data Science aimed at mixing all the necessary ingredients for a successful learning: a solid multi-disciplinary theoretical background combined with a frequent use of laboratory activity and special emphasis on developing a final data-science thesis project. The program is taught in English to attract the motivated students from everywhere and help them develop the necessary ability to interact in an international multidisciplinary environment. It is a 2-year, 120 ECTS program ending with the development and discussion of a final thesis project.

What kind of role partnerships with Earth Observation experts played in providing a real hands-on experience with the space domain of applications to students?

The role of the Earth Observation experts has been and is essential as they can provide a real hands-on experience to students showing the most updated tools, such as the Sentinel Application Platform (SNAP) platform, as well as using Sentinel data for a variety of applications. In my Earth Observation (EO) Data Analysis course the partnership with the ESA Research and Service Support (RSS) group in ESRIN was greatly appreciated by all students and is probably one of the reasons for the increase of the number of EO students from 5 to 30 in only 3 years.

With a look to the future, what jobs will be the most in-demand in the field of Earth Observation according to you?

Most appealing and requested EO jobs will be probably related to EO big-data analysis both in the midstream and downstream domain. This means that professionals should be able to develop new retrieval algorithms and to understand the physical modelling behind as well as to be capable to apply new machine learning techniques and set up robust data pipelines for data processing.

More generally, where do you see the society taking the most benefit from Earth Observation in 5/10 years from now?

Earth system monitoring applications as well as security, civil protection, urban planning and agricultural production will be the most explored domains. EO data support to governmental policy makers will be probably more and more requested.

For a close, is there anything else you would like to add?

In conclusion, if “Data science is the sexiest job in the 21st century” as often mentioned, then we may say that “EO is certainly the funniest”.


To learn more about Frank S. Marzano

Prof. Frank S. Marzano received the Laurea degree (cum laude) in Electrical Engineering (1988) and the Ph.D. degree (1993) in Applied Electromagnetics both from the Sapienza University of Rome, Italy. During 1993 he collaborated with the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, National Council of Research (CNR), Rome, Italy. After being a lecturer at the University of Perugia, Italy, in 1997 he joined the Department of Electrical Engineering, University of L’Aquila, Italy teaching courses on electromagnetic fields as Assistant Professor. In 2002 he got the qualification to Associate Professorship and co-founded Center of Excellence on Remote Sensing and Hydro-Meteorological Modeling (CETEMPS), L’Aquila. In 2005 he finally joined the Dept. of Information engineering, Electronics and Telecommunications (DIET), Sapienza Univ. of Rome, Italy where he presently is a full professor and teaches courses on antennas, propagation and remote sensing. Since 2013 he is the director of Centre of Excellence CETEMPS of the University of L’Aquila, Italy. His current research concerns passive and active remote sensing of the atmosphere from ground-based, airborne, and space-borne platforms and electromagnetic propagation studies. Prof. Marzano has published more than 150 papers on refereed International Journals, more than 30 contributions to international Book chapters and more than 300 extended abstract on international and national congress proceedings. Since 2014 he is Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Geoscience and Remote Sensing (TGRS) as well as the journal EGU Atmospheric Measurements Techniques. Dr. Marzano is Fellow of RMetS (Royal Meteorological Society) since 2012 and Fellow of IEEE since 2015.