Half a century has passed since the launch of Landsat-1, the first civil Earth observation satellite in 1972 – five decades which are characterized by enormous progress with respect to satellite hardware, data acquisition sensors, telecommunication technology, and data processing and evaluation. Together with this evolution a wealth of applications of Earth observation techniques has been developed.
As a consequence satellite remote sensing has become one of the most important single technologies providing a wealth of information about the status and changes of our planet. This makes it possible to obtain a very complete picture of the situation in important fields such as resource management, environmental and climate change monitoring, and disaster management.
The European Space Agency ESA is responsible for the space component of Copernicus, a highly important data acquisition programme of the European Union. More or less all of the data collected in this context has a strong spatial component, making maps the adequate tool to work with it.
To foster a wide use of the data and to make citizens of the European Union aware of and used to its high potential, ESA has launched a large variety of activities that aim at informing teachers and students about Earth observation and providing easy access to material that can be used in lessons. In the context of these activities, in 2005 a first ESA School Atlas funded by ESA was published by GEOSPACE, with a focus on the printed book but additionally providing a wealth of digital material. More than 15 years later this ESA School Atlas Next Generation is published, exploiting the potential of digital maps and of an online platform. This allows for keeping the provided material up-to-date and to add new case studies covering upcoming events of interest