Biomass (Earth Explorer 7)

Spacecraft Mass: 1170 kg

Orbital Altitude: 666 km

Launch Date: 2024

Designed to deliver for the first time, global, repeat, systematic estimates of forest biomass.

Selected as ESA's seventh Earth Explorer in May 2013, the Biomass mission will provide crucial information about the state of our forests and how they are changing. Set to fly in 2024, ESA’s Biomass Earth Explorer satellite with its 12-m diameter radar antenna will pierce through woodland canopies to perform a global survey of Earth’s forests – and see how they change over the course of Biomass’s five-year mission.

Trees are an integral, much-loved element of our environment; they also hold clues to our collective future. Knowing the amount of carbon bound up in forest biomass will sharpen our understanding of climate change and its likely effects on the global carbon cycle.

Biomass will achieve this using a ‘synthetic aperture radar’ to send down signals from orbit and record the resulting backscatter, building up maps of tree height and volume. To see through leafy treetop to the trees themselves, Biomass will employ long-wavelength ‘P-band’ radar, which has never previously flown in space. It will have its signals amplified to travel down from a 600-km altitude orbit down to Earth and back.

ESA’s Directorate of Technology, Engineering and Quality worked with the Biomass mission team on the advanced signal amplifiers needed to make the mission feasible, based on the most promising semiconductor since silicon.

Satellite specifications:

  • Dimensions: three-axes stabilised platform 10 m high, 12 m wide and 20 m long (including large reflector)
  • Mass: 1170 kg (including 67 kg fuel)
  • Instrument: synthetic aperture radar operating at P-band (435 MHz); fully polarimetric
  • Power: 1.5 kW deployable solar array with 6.8 m2 triple junction GaAs cells; 144 Ah Li-ion battery
  • Mission life: Five years (including a tomographic phase of one year)

Space Structures GmbH contribution:

In a consortium with OHB Italia, APCO and SENER, SPS was responsible for the provision of the BIOMASS primary structure mechanical analyses:

  • Detailed Static/Strength Analysis of BIOMASS Primary and Secondary Structure
  • Stress and Margins of Safety for Panel Facesheets, Honeycomb, Inserts, Fasteners
  • Optimization of performance
  • Structure S/C FEM model
  • Thermo-elastic stress and deformation (pointing) analysis and correlation

In addition, multi-disciplinary consulting work (CAD, FEM, Thermal) was performed for the PDHU electronic unit of DSI Aerospace GmbH.

Let’s start the next space mission together!

This website collects only necessary cookies and analytical cookies; no personal identifiable information will be collected.

By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you will allow us to gain valuable insights to enhance your user experience and our website.

Space Structures GmbH

Engineered in Germany.
Made in Europe.
Delivered worldwide.

Quality Management System

Space Structures GmbH

Fanny-Zobel-Str. 11

12435 Berlin, Germany

Tel: +49 30 814549 700

Fax: +49 30 814549 799



We are hiring engineers, innovators, project managers and more!

Discover current job vacancies!