ESA title




EOP-Φ Department

The ancient Greek letter Φ (pronounced as “Phi”) symbolises harmony and a co-existence of different elements into one single entity. In science, besides the famous “golden ratio”, it also represents things that are in a state of flux as well as the momentum wave function in quantum physics.

Observing Earth from space is based on this double dimension. Satellites allow scientists to gather informative data about our planet with the help of complex systems working together on the ground and in space. Scientists have to constantly push their limits and explore more unknowns to increase our knowledge of our home planet and exploit innovative technologies.

ESA chose “Φ” – recalling F in the roman alphabet – as the symbol for its Future Systems Department within the Earth Observation Programmes (EOP) Directorate. Established in 2017, the EOP-Φ Department defines and prepares future Earth observation (EO) systems, architectures and technologies to maintain ESA’s position as the lead innovator in European EO. The EOP-Φ Department consists of two Divisions and two Offices split over ESA’s ESRIN site in Italy and ESTEC in the Netherlands.

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Divisions and Offices Activities

Perform preparatory activities for future missions in general, for studies relating to future EO architectures, missions and instruments and is responsible for the EO future technologies programme
Establish end-to-end system architecture of ESA’s EO activities in complement to European, national and commercial EO programmes
Ensure oversight of Copernicus Space Component activities to meet user needs and enhance continuity
Investigate new domains in EO including disruptive methods and technologies,
such as Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computing, for EOP, other Directorates and external partners
Facilitate innovation in EO systems and establish partnerships with economic operators to facilitate high risk to high potential developments and strengthen the global competitiveness of European industry

Discover the Φ-Department

The φ-Department Organisation