The satellite is built in parts. The solar panels are now deployed at Airbus Defence and Space’s factory in Stevenage, UK. In early November, the assembly will be shipped to Toulouse in southern France. Tests will be carried out there throughout 2023. After that, the satellite will be shipped one more time to Kourou in French Guinea. Launch with a ‘Vega’ type rocket is scheduled for 2024.
Earth Explorer Biomass, ESA’s forest mission, will use a new measurement technique to obtain from space entirely new information about the altitude and above-ground biomass of forests. The satellite is equipped with a huge reflector 12m in diameter to pick up P-band radar signals piercing through the treetops. The P-band lies in the spectrum from 250 to 500 MHz, which in radar terms is ‘long wave.’
For five years, Biomass will count all the trees on Earth. This count should lead to a better understanding of the state of Earth’s forests, how they change over time and increase knowledge of the carbon cycle.
Check ESA’s website for more information.
Image: the Biomass satellite with solar panels, before shipment/ESA