Space and Aviation

A Forest Sensing Satellite ‘Biomass ’ Being Built By Airbus

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) forest sensing satellite, Biomass, is taking shape at Airbus site in Stevenage, England, the aerospace corporation said in a press release on Thursday, February 11. The Structure Model Platform of the satellite is finalized and is ready for a test campaign.

The development and construction site of Airbus in Stevenage is said to have followed the UK Government’s COVID precautionary guidelines and therefore is safe to continue the spacecraft production. Earlier the construction of the mechanical structure of the satellite was disrupted due to the global coronavirus. However, the Airbus team came up with a digital solution, in April and May 2020, to continue the partnership with ESA and suppliers. Thus, the development of the satellite’s mechanical structure progressed.

By the second half of 2020, the structure model was completed. The integration of hardware onto the Structure Model Platform was done early on last January. The Structure Model is set for trial at Airbus Toulouse in southern France. 

 “Despite the pandemic the teams have really stepped up finding innovative ways to keep manufacture on track,” Richard Franklin, Managing Director, Airbus Defence and Space UK said. 

“The progress made demonstrates the high level of skills and capabilities of the Airbus teams and their commitment to deliver on the project,” he added.

“The status of the structure built as of today is a remarkable achievement given the number and variety of problems the teams had to face,” Michael Fehringer, ESA’s Biomass Project Manager said.

What is Biomass Satellite?

Biomass is European Space Agency’s Earth-observing satellite. It will provide global maps of the amount of carbon stored in the forests around the world and how this changes over time. The mission is set to launch in 2022, was selected by ESA’s Earth Observation Program Board as its 7th Earth Explorer mission in May 2013. 

The explorer will carry the first P-band synthetic aperture radar, able to deliver accurate maps of tropical, temperate and boreal forest biomass which cannot be obtained by any ground measurement techniques. 

The five-year mission will monitor at least eight growth cycles in the worlds’ forests and will support UN treaties on the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Furthermore, the mission, which is part of ESA’s Living Planet Program, will also provide considerable insight into rates of habitat loss and its effect on forest biodiversity.

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