A  Further information on CEOS


A.1   Overview

The Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) was created in 1984, in response to a recommendation from a Panel of Experts on Remote Sensing from Space, under the aegis of the Economic Summit of Industrialised Nations Working Group on Growth, Technology and Employment. This group recognized the multidisciplinary nature of satellite Earth observation and the value of coordination across all proposed missions.

CEOS combined the previously existing groups for Coordination on Ocean Remote-Sensing Satellites (CORSS) and Coordination on Land Observation Satellites (CLOS), and established a broad framework for coordinating all spaceborne Earth observation missions.

A.2   Purpose

CEOS coordinates civil spaceborne observations of the Earth. Participating agencies strive to address critical scientific questions and not to plan satellite missions which unnecessarily overlap each other.

CEOS has three primary objectives in pursuing this goal:

  • to optimize benefits of spaceborne Earth observations through cooperation of its Members in mission planning and in development of compatible data products, formats, services, applications and policies;
  • to serve as a focal point for international coordination of space-related Earth observation activities;

  • to exchange policy and technical information to encourage complementarity and compatibility of observation and data exchange systems.

A.3   Participants

Members: Governmental organisations that are international or national in nature and are responsible for a civil spaceborne Earth observations program currently operating, or at least in Phase B or equivalent of system development, will be eligible for membership in CEOS.
Associates: CEOS Associates are either:

  • Governmental organisations that are international or national in nature and currently have a civil space-segment activity in Phase A/pre-Phase A or equivalent of system development, or a significant ground-segment activity that supports CEOS objectives; or
  • Other existing satellite coordination groups and scientific or governmental bodies that are international in nature and currently have a significant programmatic activity that supports CEOS objectives.

A.4  CEOS Plenary

Currently, 23 space agencies along with 20 other national and international organisations participate in CEOS planning and activities. Participating agencies meet in Plenary annually, with activities and coordination occurring throughout the year. The Plenary reviews progress on the various projects and activities being undertaken within CEOS. The Chair of CEOS rotates at the annual Plenary. The CEOS Chair for 2005 is the British National Space Centre (BNSC). For 2006, the Comision Nacional de Actividades Espaciales (CONAE), of Argentina, will undertake CEOS Chairmanship.

A.5  CEOS Secretariat

A permanent Secretariat, chaired by the current CEOS host organisation, provides most of the coordination between plenary sessions and is maintained by:

  • the European Space Agency (ESA) jointly with the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT);
  • the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) jointly with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States;
  • the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) jointly with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA);

and is chaired by the current CEOS host organisation in support of the CEOS Plenary. As part of the ongoing contribution to CEOS Secretariat activities, ESA is responsible for the CEOS Handbook, NASA for the CEOS Annual Report and WWW site content, and MEXT/JAXA for the CEOS Newsletter, Brochure and maintenance of the WWW site.

A.6  CEOS Working Groups

Working Group on Calibration and Validation (WGCV): The objectives of the WGCV are to enhance coordination and complementarity, to promote international cooperation and to focus activities in the calibration and validation of Earth observations for the benefit of CEOS Members and the international user community. WGCV addresses sensor specific calibration/validation and geophysical parameter/derived products validation. WGCV meets approximately every nine months. The subgroups of WGCV are as follows:

  • The Infrared and Visible Optical Sensors Subgroup;
  • The Microwave Sensors Subgroup;
  • The SAR Subgroup;
  • The Terrain Mapping Subgroup;
  • The Land Product Validation Subgroup
  • The Atmospheric Chemistry Subgroup.


Working Group on Information Systems and Services (WGISS): The objective of WGISS is to facilitate data and information management and services for users and data providers in dealing with global, regional, and local issues. In particular, it addresses the capture, description, processing, access, retrieval, utilisation, maintenance and exchange of spaceborne Earth observation data and supporting ancillary and auxiliary data and information, enabling improved interoperability and interconnectivity of information systems and services. WGISS meets approximately every six months.

The two subgroups of WGISS are the ‘Technology & Services’, and the ‘Projects and Applications’ Subgroups. WGISS has started a new initiative called the WGISS Test Facility which offers a framework for partnership with selected international science and EO projects to test and develop information systems and services to meet their requirements. The Global Observation of Forest Cover (GOFC) international science project was the first test of this concept. More recent implementations include WTF-CEOP – which aims to provide assistance to the CEOP (Coordinated Enhanced Observing Period) science community in the development of data services associated with satellite data integration.


Working Group on Education and Training (WGEdu): The CEOS Working Group on Earth Observation, Education, Training, and Capacity Building (WGEdu) has developed a Strategy for EO Education and Training in order to establish an effective coordination and partnership mechanism among CEOS agencies and institutions offering education and training around the world. The key objective of the strategy is to facilitate activities that substantially enhance international education and training in Earth System Science and the observation techniques, data analysis and interpretation required for its use and application to societal needs. The Group has developed a CEOS Education portal to provide easy access to data sets available for these purposes.


A.7  Strategic Implementation Team

CEOS has established a Strategic Implementation Team (SIT) with the responsibility to address the composition and function of the space component of an IGOS. (Further details in annex B). The SIT provides a forum where the heads of space agencies can meet to develop agreements on programme commitments - in order to address gaps or overlaps in mission planning.

In 2005, the SIT is Chaired by JAXA. ESA will commence their 2-year chairmanship late in 2005.

A.8  Further information on CEOS activities

Refer to www.ceos.org

Or contact the nearest member of the CEOS Secretariat:

8-10, rue Mario Nikis
75738 Paris Cedex 15
+33 1 5369 7131 (voice)
+33 1 5369 7226 (fax)

Am Kavalleriesand 31
64295 Darmstadt
+49 6151 807 603 (voice)
+ 49 6151 807 555 (fax)

United States:

300 E Street, SW
Washington, DC 20546
+1 202 358 1622 (voice)
+1 202 358 2798 (fax)

1335 East-West Highway
20910-3226 Silver Spring, MD
+1 301 713 2024 (voice)
+1 301 713 2032 (fax)


Earth Observation Research Center (EORC)
Harumi Triton Square X-tower 23F
1-8-10 Harumi, Chuoku, Tokyo, JAPAN
+81 3 6221 9139 (voice)
+81 3 6221 9180 (fax)

* MEXT: Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology
The CEOS Newsletter supplements the latest information available on-line about CEOS and is distributed internationally on a 6-monthly basis. Subscription requests should be sent to:
Ms Kazuko Misawa

+81 3 5561 4547 (voice)

CEOS History

Plenary Year Venue Host
1st Plenary 1984 Washington, DC, USA NOAA
2nd Plenary 1986 Frascati, Italy ESA
3rd Plenary 1988 Ottawa, Canada CSA
4th Plenary 1990 São José dos Campos, Brazil INPE
5th Plenary 1991 Washington, DC, USA NASA/NOAA
6th Plenary 1992 London, UK BNSC
7th Plenary 1993 Tsukuba, Japan MEXT/NASDA
8th Plenary 1994 Berlin, Germany DARA
9th Plenary 1995 Montreal, Canada CSA
10th Plenary 1996 Canberra, Australia CSIRO
11th Plenary 1997 Toulouse, France CNES
12th Plenary 1998 Bangalore, India ISRO
13th Plenary 1999 Stockholm, Sweden EUMETSAT
14th Plenary 2000 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil INPE
15th Plenary 2001 Kyoto, Japan MEXT/NASDA
16th Plenary 2002 Frascati, Italy ESA
17th Plenary 2003 Colorado Springs, USA NOAA
18th Plenary 2004 Beijing, PR China NRSCC
19th Plenary 2005 London, UK BNSC
20th Plenary 2006 Argentina CONAE

CEOS structure