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Advanced radar technology to map and monitor forests via satellite

ESA, the European Space Agency, has now selected the BIOMASS satellite for a mission to monitor climate change from space. FOI leads Sweden’s contribution which involves the development of BIOMASS in collaboration with scientists from six European countries

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“It is enormously encouraging to know that we have the funding for BIOMASS,” says Lars Ulander, a radar scientist at FOI who has been a member of the international group that has successfully piloted the project up to this final decision stage. It is also an acknowledgement that Sweden and FOI are placed together in the front rank in this research field and that we have the capability to carry this leading edge technology still further in enabling it to be used for advanced environmental monitoring.

BIOMASS uses P-band (435 MHz) synthetic aperture radar (SAR). This technology builds on earlier research by FOI and is used in Swedish ground-penetrating radars designed to locate buried objects. This is the first time that this technology has been used from space.

“In order to be able to make good predictions for climate change it is important to determine the impact of deforestation. Until now there has been no satisfactory way of studying global changes in the world’s forests. BIOMASS will be able to measure with a high degree of accuracy how much carbon is stored in forests, primarily the tropical rain forests for which there is a marked lack of data. The project is also a good example in which technology that has been developed for military purposes is now being used in a civil context,” says Lars Ulander.

The 1.2 ton satellite will be launched using the ESA’s VEGA launch vehicle in 2020.

For more information see the ESA’s website: http://www.esa.int/For_Media/Press_Releases/ESA_s_next_Earth_Explorer_satellite

FOI, Swedish Defence Research Agency

Swedish Defence Research Agency
SE-164 90 Stockholm

Phone +46 8 555 030 00
Fax +46 8 555 031 00

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