GEO-Microsoft Planetary Computer Programme


The GEO-Microsoft Planetary Computer Programme invites the GEO community to be among Microsoft’s Planetary Computer adopters. This is a multi-petabyte catalogue of global environmental data with intuitive Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to utilise open data and analytical tools and help shape the platform’s development in its early stages.

This programme will support several 12-month projects that use the Planetary Computer to apply Earth Observations to address environmental challenges within the context of a Flagship, Initiative or community activity of the GEO Work Programme (GWP).

Eligibility criteria

  • Projects must use the Planetary Computer to build their solution. This includes using at least one of the datasets from the Planetary Computer Data Catalog.
  • Projects must be developed and scaled using Microsoft Azure.
  • Applicants must be associated with research institutions from GEO Members and Participating Organizations.
  • Projects should contribute to and be endorsed by the leadership of the Flagship, Initiative or Community Activity of the GWP on whose behalf the proposal is submitted.
  • All data, software and products developed within the project resulting from this open call will be made available to the GEO community following the principles and procedures stated in Section 3.4 (Ethical Standards and Intellectual Property) of the GEO Rules of Procedure. They may be considered for inclusion in the Planetary Computer.
  • To enable the global community of researchers to innovate and build on each other’s work, project deliverables must be made publicly available: data (including in situ, marine and spaceborne) as per the GEOSS Data Sharing Principles and code as open-source scripts and software.

Program Timeline

22 April 2021 – Open call for project proposals.

15 June 2021 – Initial draft of the entire proposal submitted to GEO Secretariat Senior Scientist Douglas Cripe ( The proposal will be forwarded to the leadership of the relevant GMP flagship initiative or community activity to be considered for endorsement.

25 June 2021 – Deadline for final draft proposal submissions (with endorsement) to the GEOSecretariat Senior Scientist.

26 July 2021 – Evaluation of grant applications by the evaluation committee.

02 August 2021 – Successful applicants are notified.

01 September 2021 – Recipients have completed due diligence

– Reviewed and signed a contract with GEO Secretariat

– Completed Azure account set-up and onboarding with Microsoft

01 September 2022 – Project reports and deliverables due.

Application Instructions

Please refer to Annex A: Application Template for more detailed application instructions. Email the completed application to the GEO Secretariat Senior Scientist, Douglas Cripe (, by the deadline of June 25, 2021, 11:59 PM CET. Each Principal Investigator can submit one application for consideration.

Selection Criteria

Projects will be selected by a panel of reviewers consisting of individuals from the GEO Secretariat, the GEO Programme Board and Microsoft AI for Earth. Criteria for selection will include:

  • The degree to which the proposed project leverages Planetary Computer and Azure capabilities and represents technological innovation.
  • Tangible data products and cloud-based workflows and tools that demonstrate applications of Earth observations within the scope of GWP Flagships, Initiatives or Community Activities (with leadership endorsement).
  • Potential for project deliverables to be scaled and used by others, including other GEO Members and Participating Organizations.
  • Suitability of team members’ skill sets to carry out the project.

Project Delivery

  • Grantees will sign a contract with GEO for the disbursement of project funds and are responsible for allocating and justifying expenditure following the approved project.
  • Grantees will submit a mid-year report and a final report one year from the project’s start date. They will continue to have access to their sponsored Azure accounts for two additional years to scale their datasets, data products, and tools more broadly.
  • Project development, implementation and results will be monitored by the GEO Secretariat in collaboration with Microsoft. Grantees will retain all intellectual property developed throughout the project.
  • Grantees are expected to be active in both the Microsoft AI for Earth and GEO communities. They will have opportunities to present their results at Microsoft and GEO events.

Successful applicants will receive:

  • Access to the Planetary Computer
  • Up to US USD 60,000 in financial support for 12 months
  • Up to US USD 60,000 Microsoft Azure credits. Recipients will have access to these credits for a total of three years, allowing them time to scale their solutions
  • Resources provided through the Microsoft AI for Earth grants program, including technical advice and support, online Azure training materials, networking and educational opportunities

More about the Planetary Computer

The Planetary Computer is a platform built on Microsoft Azure that consists of the following components:

Data Catalog: petabytes of Earth systems data hosted on Azure and made available to users for free

APIs: enable users to search for data they need across space and time.

Hub: fully managed computing environment makes data and APIs accessible via open-source tools and allows users to scale their analyses quickly.

Applications: Successful applicants may have their completed projects considered for inclusion as Planetary Computer applications.

GEO and Microsoft are working together to develop additional tools for decision making, and we will update the Planetary Computer website as more functionality becomes available.

For any questions, please contact: Douglas Cripe (

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