UK-Built Biomass Satellite Will Weigh Forests On Earth

30th Aug 2022
UK-Built Biomass Satellite Will Weigh Forests On Earth

Airbus UK is currently assembling the European Space Agency’s Biomass satellite at its space facility in Stevenage. This satellite will measure the carbon stored in forests around the world. 

The idea behind the Biomass satellite is that it will scan forests from space. The data obtained then enables scientists to evaluate how deforestation is impacting climate change. 

More accurate assessments are possible

Biomass will be the first ever satellite to have a fully polarimetric P-band (70cm, or ~ 450MHz) radar incorporated. This enables it to go through the entire top forest layer, mapping the branches and trunks hidden below. Previous missions could not penetrate below the top growth. 

This key difference will let scientists more accurately and more thoroughly evaluate the impact of deforestation on climate change. Uncertainty around existing measures should reduce considerably as a consequence. 

Mission planners claim that the survey will take approximately five years. One full scan of the forests worldwide takes six months. 

The head of ESA policy at the UK Space Agency, Maria Cody, said the mission can affect humanity’s next steps. The project will enable the wider public and scientists themselves to see “if there is a degradation or a destruction of forests… and model what that impact will be and take action quite early on to correct that.”

The importance of Biomass in the fight against global warming

Biomass project scientists state that it is imperative to boosting awareness about the tangible effects of global warming.

Furthermore, the length of the mission will give climate change specialists the ability to better track the advances of climate change and prepare for the consequences of it. 

Once Biomass is in orbit, it will be able to scan the Earth’s lungs, penetrating through canopies and creating 3D images of forests around the world.

Any data that is gathered during a mission will be made available to the public, ensuring we all have impartial and consistent measures of the Earth’s biomass.

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