ESA title

Flagship programmes

The Φ-lab manages or contributes to five flagships programme that are expected to deliver huge changes in the way Earth observation will impact our society and technology.


AI for Earth Observation (AI4EO) focuses on harnessing the power of AI with the vast amount of EO data now available, and it is the Φ-lab initiative to exploit the great potential of AI that is still largely untapped. While today the new boost of AI4EO is mainly related to Computer Vision applied to high-resolution satellite imagery, there are many other areas for Earth Science, prediction and big data analytics that could benefit from AI. In particular, Deep Learning is pushing AI to new levels beyond human performance. The Earth Observation research and business communities are now rapidly awakening to these opportunities.


Quantum Computing for EO (QC4EO)initiative is run in collaboration with CERN to tackle the most computational demanding EO problems with the “soon to come” Quantum Computing capabilities of the next computer generation.


InCubed is the ESA Earth Observation Public Private Partnership investment opportunity to support and develop innovative and commercially viable products and services. We encourage high-risk/high-potential developments mitigating the technical and financial risks by co-funding your business idea.

Destination Earth

Destination Earth is a European Commission initiative to develop an ambitious AI-driven decision support system based on a very high precision digital model of the Earth to monitor and simulate natural and human activity, and to develop and test scenarios that would enable more sustainable development and support European environmental policies. ESA intends to participate by leading the overall effort in collaboration with EUMETSAT and ECMWF.

© cosine Remote Sensing B.V.

Φ-sats programme

The ESA Φ-sat programme, run by the EOP Φ Department, is aimed to develop a series of transformative AI based technologies that will be tested in flight by nano and mini satellites. The first satellite is already operational, while the second is in a fast development path. The Φ-lab is responsible for the AI elements of these satellites.