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Meet the Engineer in charge of Copernicus Sentinels Data Access

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Razvan Cosac is the Technical Officer of the new Copernicus Sentinels Data Access—the Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem—a service that is ensuring continuity from the legacy Data Access Service (Copernicus Data Access Hubs) and the Copernicus Data Access and Information Service DIAS.

Razvan Cosac is the Technical Officer of the new Copernicus Sentinels Data Access—the Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem—a service that is ensuring continuity from the legacy Data Access Service (Copernicus Data Access Hubs) and the Copernicus Data Access and Information Service DIAS.

Razvan is also managing several Data Hub Relay contracts operated in Norway, Greece, UK and the Czech Republic. In short, he is responsible for everything linked with Copernicus Sentinels Data Access.

Born in Romania, Razvan also lived and studied in Belgium before obtaining a Master’s degree in Earth Sciences, from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom.

He started his career at ESA in the Centre for Earth Observation (ESRIN) in 2013, as a Young Graduate Trainee, part of the ESA Long Term Data Preservation (LTDP) Programme.

Before joining the Copernicus Programme in 2019, Razvan continued to provide engineering and management support to the LTDP team as a contractor, coordinating projects with industry involving the consolidation, processing, archiving and dissemination of historical Earth Observation data records for ESA and Third Party Missions.


ESA: How did your studies shape your job choices?

Razvan: I have always been passionate about space, research and innovation, and it was an ambition of mine that one day I would work for a space agency and contribute to the betterment of humankind. As part of my studies, I focused on subjects such as Environmental and Climate Change, Earth Surface Processes and Seismic and Volcanic Hazards, and I used satellite imagery to analyse changes in Earth’s topography. This, coupled with my international background, turned out to be the right fit for working within ESA’s Centre for Earth Observation

ESA: What does your role as Technical Officer of Sentinel data access activities entail?

Razvan: The Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem represents ESA’s Copernicus Data Access Service, a key and critical element of the Copernicus Space Component (CSC) Ground Segment (GS) operations. It is the front-end service that provides free and open Sentinel User Level Data to the user communities.

At its core, the Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem is a data distribution service combined with advanced processing APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and services, as well as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) resources. Based on a state-of-the-art data infrastructure, the Ecosystem provides an efficient and attractive European solution to access and process Copernicus Sentinel data.

My primary responsibility as Technical Officer is to ensure the successful implementation of the service according to the established functional and technical requirements, and to verify its correct delivery and performances.

As the Data Access service is at the end of the chain in the Copernicus Ground Segment, it is strongly interlinked with all other GS services and thus strong communication is required for an efficient integration with these services.

During 2023, I coordinated the phase-in of the Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem service, supporting and facilitating the integration with existing interfaces from other CSC Ground Segment services, such as the Production Services, the Copernicus Precise Orbit Determination, and the Auxiliary Data Gather Service.

I also appraised and provided feedback on the new Data Space Ecosystem functionalities and services that have gradually been deployed and continue to be evolved, as well as provided further input wherever necessary to facilitate the integration and addition of new data or features, to ensure a successful phase-in of the service.

The goal is to manage and provide an efficient, reliable, robust and attractive service, which will allow users and public services to interact with the data and tools directly. This will help in building a thriving, open and expanding Ecosystem, to increase the impact of Earth observation data for a sustainable society.

ESA: What are the challenges and successes of managing such a vast data programme?

Razvan: As the Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem represents the front-end service of ESA’s Copernicus Ground Segment, it has direct exposure to the public, offering fair access to open and free Sentinel User Level Data. Therefore, there is an essential need to ensure that the service is secure, that it works well 24/7, but also that it provides the required functionality, allowing users to take advantage of the data, tools and services offered through the Ecosystem.

Maintaining a balance between all these aspects is a constant challenge. The service is also very dynamic and needs to absorb changes taking place upstream, including evolutions, fixing incidents, and continuous improvement.

The Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem has been extremely ambitious from the start, and with one of the largest budgets managed by ESA within an Earth observation contract, the expectations are high. One of the main challenges of the service was the initial ramp-up phase, bringing it into full operations. This is because the Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem is not a simple data access service, but it brings together a vast data offering in combination with a multitude of additional services, tools and functionalities, such as streamlined data services, on-demand production, and a traceability service, just to name a few. The Ecosystem represents the next step in the evolution of Earth observation data access.

The Copernicus Data Access service has been, and continues to represent, a successful key element of the Copernicus Programme. Since the start of operations in 2014, we have published more than 100 million products, corresponding to approximately 66PB, and served more than 800,000 users worldwide, which have interacted with more than 680PB of Copernicus Sentinel data. These numbers speak for themselves when it comes to the programme’s success.

The data published through the Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem are used by communities across the world in a variety of applications, from agriculture and forestry, to marine, atmospheric, and more critical issues such as security, emergency management and climate change. In Europe, the use of Copernicus Sentinel data enables policy makers to take decisions that have an impact on our daily lives.

The Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem is not only a vast project but also one that aims to provide a long-term perspective. To achieve this, it is crucial to keep up with the latest technologies and look to integrate those that provide usefulness to our services and end-users. This pushes me to learn new things, bringing the opportunity to offer new or improved tools and services to the user communities.

ESA: How would you sum up your overall experience?


Razvan: Being part of ESA is a stimulating experience. I thoroughly enjoy working in an international, multicultural environment - it also helps me keep my language abilities active! Working within the Copernicus team in ESRIN is very dynamic, with new things happening and evolving constantly, whether it’s new data, new satellite missions or new tools and functions.

The Copernicus Programme is currently the most successful Earth observation programme in the world, attracting both small and large industrial players, as well as a vast number of user communities from different fields of work. It feels incredibly great to see the impact that the Copernicus Programme has both in Europe and outside, and it comes with great responsibility to know that you are a significant part of it, contributing to the benefit of the whole world.

ESA: Last but not least, we heard you are in charge of the dance club within ESRIN – what does this entail?

Razvan: Indeed! Social activities are strongly promoted within ESA, and progressively more so after the Covid pandemic, which brought multiple lockdowns. In ESRIN we have various social clubs, from basketball,tennis and mountaineering, to botanic, astronomy, music and dance, just to name a few.

We created the Dance Club soon after the Covid restrictions were lifted to help people socialise, to promote health and fitness and to provide ESRIN employees and family members the possibility of learning and practicing various types of dances.

Together with the other dance club committee members, I am responsible for the management of the club: contacting teachers, organising the schedule for the dance lessons, promoting participation at events and workshops, and preparing the activities for the ESRIN Clubs Day and the ESA Team Day, the two main social events organised by ESA, in which clubs are invited to participate.

The feedback received from the ESRIN Social Committee, work colleagues, and club members onour involvement and coordination of the Dance Club has been  extremely positive and I can see that colleagues are enjoying themselves on the dancefloor more and more!


Meet the Team