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Copernicus is a European Union Programme aimed at developing European Information Services based on satellite Earth Observation and in situ (non space) data analyses. This initiative is headed by the European Commission (EC) in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Environment Agency (EEA).

In developing a competitive European space and services industry, Copernicus aims to nurture innovative earth observation systems and services and ensure Europe's independent access to environmental knowledge and key observation and geo-information gathering technologies. The information services provided will be freely and openly accessible to its users.

Copernicus comprises 3 components: a service component, a space component and an in situ component.

Copernicus core users are policy-makers and public authorities who use the information as a basis for developing policies and legislation, such as in the environmental field or civil protection in the event of a natural disaster or humanitarian crisis. Other users include commercial and private users, the education and research sectors, and not-for-profit organisations.

Copernicus data and information are made available on a full, open and non-fee basis, subject to certain conditions and limitations. This is to promote their use and sharing, as well as to boost European Earth observation markets, in particular the development of value-added services and products. Such downstream services may or may not be available for free, depending on the provider's business model.