Why the ESA's world-first Biomass satellite is 'very timely' for understanding Earth's climate
- ESA's UK-built satellite, Biomass, will measure elements of Earth's biomass to better estimate the amount of carbon that Earth's forests store and aid in their protection. It builds on the successes of the previous ESA missions, Sentinel-5P and Aeolus.
- Equipped with a completely polarimetric P-band radar, Biomass will be the first satellite to carry one into space.
- Having departed for final testing in Toulouse, France, Biomass will be carried into space on a Vega rocket in Q2 2024, where it will begin its five-year mission, creating 3D maps of Earth's forests to an unprecedented accuracy.
Every year since 2000, forests are estimated to have taken 2 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere annually on average. Known as their 'carbon sink' function, forests, which cover about 30 percent of the Earth's land surface, absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
They store it as biomass within the wood and plant matter of the trees as well as in the soil; this capacity depends on the type of forest. In perspective, experts believe that around 80 percent of the world's biomass is made up of plants, including boreal forests, tropical rainforests, mangroves, urban forests, and plantations.
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