AZORES

The Azores Region is an autonomous territory of the Portuguese Republic, situated in the Northeast Atlantic, sitting on the triple junction of the American, African and Eurasian tectonic plates. The archipelago is comprised of 9 volcanic islands and plays a major geostrategic role due to its location and its contribution to the Portuguese Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of nearly 1 million Km2, one of the largest in Europe, representing 16,3% of the EU’s EEZ. Within this area, about 63 deep seamounts (at depths below 1000m) and 398 shallow seamounts (between 200 and 1000m depth) have been mapped by scientists, being of great importance for this region’s biological resources, research and fishing activity.

The ocean and its resources, agriculture and tourism are key strategic areas for the Regional Government of Azores, and so is the development of space and satellite technologies’ applications with the aim to meet the economic and social needs of the Region’s citizens and public administration.

Santa Maria island hosts most of the space related infrastructures in Azores, namely one of the first European Space Agency’s launcher tracking station (ESTRACK) and Copernicus collaborative station and a Galileo Sensor Station, all operated by EDISOFT. The first of two of the Regional Government’s VLBI antennas is also in Santa Maria, the second one planned to be operational in 2018 on Flores Island. These two antennas are part of a set of four that constitute the Atlantic Network of Geodinamic and Spacial Stations (Rede Atlântica de Estações Geodinâmicas e Espaciais -RAEGE), a project of the Azores Government with the Government of Spain.

Setting up an entity to manage all space-related affairs – Azores Mission Structure for Space (Estrutura de Missão dos Açores para o Espaço) – is a recent and clear indication of this Region’s space oriented strategy. Through this entity the Region’s government ensures its active role in the Portuguese National Space Strategy 2030 and plans for the creation of the Portuguese Space Agency, as well as in the creation process of the Atlantic International Research Centre (AIR Centre), an Ocean - Atmosphere/Climate – Energy - Space oriented International Scientific Organization.

The Azores Government’s involvement in the Copernicus Program, namely as a member of the Copernicus Relay network, in close collaboration with the Azores University as a member of the Copernicus Academy network, aims at maximizing the benefits that the Region’s public, private and civil sectors can obtain from the Program’s data and services.

Becoming a founding member of NEREUS in 2007 has surely been a successful bet to achieve the present status as a Space Region and a source of fruitful partnerships and projects.