RUS-Copernicus: completion of the project in December 2021

RUS-Copernicus, the Research and User Support Service, specially addressing end-users of Sentinel core products and datasets, in the European countries, will end operations on December 31st 2021.

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Photo: RUS-Copernicus
Photo: RUS-Copernicus

Over the past four years, RUS-Copernicus has been offering its registered users a powerful computational environment, in the form of customised Virtual Machines (VM), preinstalled with a wide variety of open-source toolboxes. Scientific advice and technical support were also part of the service, for application-driven Sentinel data processing and visualisation. 

The aim was clearly to foster the use of Copernicus Sentinel images and support a large number of users: students, university teachers, researchers, engineers, and policy or decision-makers to access, process, analyse, and integrate Sentinel products for Atmosphere, Land and Marine monitoring applications. 

Free Virtual Machines, tailored to meet trainers’ needs, were also provided, for a specific duration, to support Higher Education teaching programmes. In this situation, the RUS ICT team backed up to train students, to familiarise them with data repositories and software, on basic image processing, like pre-processing, creation of masks and indices, and comparison of data.  

Another key component of the service was the regular organisation and release of training contents and materials for any kind of users, from beginners to experts (e.g., videos, monthly webinars, remote training sessions, and masterclasses). During the remote training sessions, the participants, helped by the RUS training team, were equipped with a VM to carry out data processing exercises. These hands-on use-cases covered a large portfolio of applications as various as Agriculture, Hazard assessment, Earthquakes, Land monitoring, Ocean monitoring, Climate change, and Atmosphere monitoring. 

Since October 2020, RUS-Copernicus also relied on the services of DIAS (Data and Information Access Services) and cloud-providers, strengthening such a powerful infrastructure with expert hands-on training. 

Photo: Serco. The image presents two densely vegetated areas: Harenna Forest and Bale Mountains National Park located in central-south part of Ethiopia, in January 2017. It represents Above-ground biomass values [in tons/ha], which can also be used to predict carbon stock in the forest area. As predictors of the above-ground biomass, to the multiple regression model run, a combination of Sentinel-2 derived vegetation indices (NDVI, NDI45, SAVI and NDMI) was used.
Above-ground biomass is a very important parameter in forest management as it allows to estimate forest resources and the dynamics of these resources. It has crucial role in the studies of carbon cycle and the capabilities of carbon storage, as well as in the climate change debate.

Over these four years of activity, the RUS service served an overall number of 3,700 users, supplying 68 training courses, 52 webinars, supporting 22 training-of-trainers sessions, offering 3,597 virtual computing resources, and managing around 6,000 support calls/tickets. 

RUS-Copernicus supplied the technical support and training resources that society really needed, after the successful launches of Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2, and Sentinel-3 missions. The service was also widely instrumental in promoting cloud-services usage, as well as the employment of virtual training rooms, on-line helpdesk support and webinars which turned especially adapted during the period of pandemic. 

RUS-Copernicus will conclude its activity on Friday December 31st 2021. But a large amount of training materials will remain accessible worldwide, on the RUS-Copernicus YouTube channel; in particular, every webinar produced in its four years of operations. Furthermore, for a period of one month, it will still be possible to download the step-by-step tutorials currently accessible, on the RUS-Copernicus portal, as these training activities paved the way for future take-up enterprises of Copernicus and other innovative services.