Latest advances in EO science and research activities are opening the door to the development of a wide variety of novel EO products, innovative EO multi-variate datasets and scientific results that have significantly enhanced our capacity to observe, understand and characterise our planet and its complex and inter-connected processes with remarkable accuracies and resolutions in space and time.

Those developments together with new advances in sectorial modelling, computing capabilities, AI and digital technologies offer excellent building blocks to realise novel EO-based Digital Twin Components (EO DTCs) that may contribute and maximise the impact of EO satellite technology in the design and implementation of future Digital Twins ecosystems. With this ITT ESA aims at developing and demonstrating, up to a pre-operational level, a set of Digital Twin Components as EO-based replicas of key components of the Earth system and their interactions with human activities and ecosystems with a strong focus on valorising the role of EO capabilities.

EO Digital Twin Component shall be based on the effective integration of:

  1. advanced EO-based multi-variate data-sets offering an holistic and dynamic data driven description of the Earth system exploiting the latest advances in EO datasets and emerging EO capabilities, and
  2. an effective and scientifically sound set of workflows integrating heterogenous data (including satellite, socio-economic and in-situ data), state-of-the-art community/sectorial models, advanced data-driven approaches, AI and hybrid methods allowing advanced data analytics, simulations and what-if scenarios that valorise the role of EO data.

Following the request of Member States to identify the first priorities for the programme, ESA launched a Call for Expression of Interest (EoI) that attracted a large community participation. As a result of such a consultation 8 initial broad priority themes were identified: Terrestrial biosphere and carbon cycle, Agriculture, Forests, Hydrology and hydro-hazards, Ice Sheets and regional/global impacts, Coastal processes and extremes, Data-driven Ocean, Land Biodiversity. In addition, several other themes have been also identified as domains of interest for further development: Air quality & health, Arctic (land and ocean), Energy sector, Geo-hazards, Mountain glaciers, Solid Earth, Urban areas and smart cities, Transport and regional spatial and infrastructures planning and Wildfires.

To respond to these set of needs and large community interest, with this ITT ESA aims at launching two type of actions:

  • Lead DTCs Development Actions: Up to 8 parallel contracts (1.5Million Euro each) aimed at developing and demonstrating, in a pre-operational environment, a EO DTC with a view to address each of the above selected 8 priority Themes. The expect outputs of this activities are, sizable end-to-end demonstration of a set of initial pre-operational EO-based DTCs, conceptually and technical mature, scientifically validated and fully tested by a representative set of early adopters, with a strong evidence of community benefits and ready for verification as part of the DESP platform framework including community roadmap for a potential evolution and transfer towards operational scenarios. Each project shall deliver an independent, thematic, end-to-end pre-operating system implementation, validation and demonstration.
  • Early DTCs Development Actions: Up to 6 parallel contracts (500KEuro each) focused on secondary Themes aimed at advancing their maturity and readiness levels, engage stakeholders in the development process and implement a prototype and demonstration. Each activity will deliver an independent feasibility and prototype demonstration. These activities are expected to deliver a set of prototype DTCs focused on additional secondary themes (see below). Each activity will deliver an independent feasibility and prototype demonstration, scientifically validated and tested by an initial set of early adopters, evidence of an enlarging community and stakeholder support, advances in essential scientific and technical building blocks and a scientific and technical roadmap for scaling-up, consolidation and potential validation within the DESP in a subsequent phase of the activity. 

Learn more about this Invitation To Tender on the esa-star Publication page.