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Airbus Defence and Space sign contract to build “Biomass”

Artist rendering of "Biomass" satellite, courtesy Airbus Defence & Space.

Artist rendering of “Biomass” satellite, courtesy Airbus Defence & Space.

Europe-based Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company has signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to build its next Earth Explorer mission, the Biomass satellite. Due to launch in 2021 it will measure global forest biomass to assess terrestrial carbon stocks and fluxes over a five-year period and see at least eight growth cycles. The spacecraft will carry the first space-borne P-band synthetic aperture radar to deliver exceptionally accurate maps of tropical, temperate and boreal forest biomass currently not obtainable on the ground.

– Collecting accurate data on the world’s biomass is key to our understanding of the world’s climate. We are very pleased to help ESA with this mission that will provide key data for scientists and climate scientists around the world, said François Auque, Head of Space Systems for Airbus Defence and Space.

Because Biomass will see through the forest canopy to the ground, it will be able to provide terrain height maps, improving current Digital Elevation Models in densely forested areas. The data will support REDD+, a UN climate change initiative aimed at reducing emissions due to deforestation, by systematically monitoring forests in vulnerable areas with no need for ground intervention.

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