Minimize Biomass
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The Earth Explorer Biomass will provide global maps of the amount of carbon stored in the world's forests and how this changes over time, mainly through absorbing carbon dioxide, which is released from burning fossil fuels.

Biomass will also provide essential support to UN treaties on the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Forest type and forest cover worldwide can be detected by today's satellites, but Biomass will take the information to the next level. Due for launch in 2021, the satellite will carry the first P-band synthetic aperture radar, able to deliver accurate maps of tropical, temperate and boreal forest biomass. The global mass of trees is not obtainable by ground measurement techniques. The five-year mission will witness at least eight growth cycles in the world's forests.

Observations from this new mission will also lead to better insight into rates of habitat loss and, therefore, the effect this may have on biodiversity in the forest environment.

Minimize Mission Details:
  • Planned Launch Date: 2021
  • Duration: 5 years in Sun-synchronous orbit.

Mission objectives:

  • Improved understanding and quantification of land contribution to global carbon cycle
  • Quantify flux of carbon from land use change
  • Greatly improved modelling of terrestrial carbon cycle
  • Gridded high-resolution global estimates of above ground biomass
  • Monitoring and quantification of forest disturbance and recovery
  • Monitoring and quantification of wetland areas and forest inundation
  • Mapping subsurface structures, polar regions
  • Mapping subsurface geomorphology in arid zones

Mission orbit:

  • Orbit: Dawn-dusk, Sun-synchronous
  • Measurement altitude: 660 km


Three-axes stabilised platform 10m high, 12m wide and 20m long (including large reflector).


  • P-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)

Ground Stations:

  • ESOC (Germany)
  • Kiruna (Sweden)

Data processing:

ESA's Centre for Earth Observation (ESRIN) in Frascati, Italy.


The prime spacecraft contractor is Airbus Defence and Space (UK), (contract awarded in May. 2016).