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N° 9–2015: ESA’s Biomass satellite goes ahead

19 February 2015

Following the initial selection in 2013 for Biomass to become ESA’s seventh Earth Explorer mission and the completion of preparatory activities, ESA Member States yesterday gave the green light for its full implementation for launch in 2020.

The mission addresses one of the most fundamental components in the Earth system: the status and dynamics of tropical forests. Its primary scientific objectives are to determine the distribution of above-ground biomass in these forests and to measure annual changes in this stock over the period of the mission.

The amount of biomass and forest height will be measured at a resolution of 200 m, and forest disturbances such as clear-cutting at a resolution of 50 m, providing an important tool for sustainable forest management.

Studying the world’s tropical biomass is key to our understanding Earth’s climate.

The missionwill provide the first opportunity to explore Earth’s surface at the ‘P-band’ radar frequency from space. In addition to studying forests, the data are expected to be used for monitoring the ionosphere, glaciers and ice sheets, and for mapping subsurface geology in deserts and surface topography below dense vegetation.

About the European Space Agency

The European Space Agency (ESA) provides Europe’s gateway to space.

ESA is an intergovernmental organisation, created in 1975, with the mission to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space delivers benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world.

ESA has 20 Member States: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, of whom 18 are Member States of the EU. Two other Member States of the EU, Hungary and Estonia, have acceded to the ESA Convention and will soon become new ESA Member States.

ESA has Cooperation Agreements with six Member States of the EU. Canada takes part in some ESA programmes under a Cooperation Agreement.

ESA is also working with the EU on implementing the Galileo and Copernicus programmes.

By coordinating the financial and intellectual resources of its members, ESA can undertake programmes and activities far beyond the scope of any single European country.

ESA develops the launchers, spacecraft and ground facilities needed to keep Europe at the forefront of global space activities.

Today, it develops and launches satellites for Earth observation, navigation, telecommunications and astronomy, sends probes to the far reaches of the Solar System and cooperates in the human exploration of space.

Learn more about ESA at www.esa.int

For further information:

ESA Media Relations Office

Email: media@esa.int

Tel: +33 1 53 69 72 99