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IDS - Fincantieri NextTech, ESA, Biomass Mission, Airbus, C-Core

ESA Biomass: The “big” antenna has been assembled and successfully tested

IDS, a Fincantieri Nextech company, in collaboration with C-CORE, have been selected to develop and install the P-band Biomass Calibration Transponder (BCT) in New-Norcia, Australia.

This activity is part of the contract awarded to Airbus Defence and Space Ltd. by the European Space Agency (ESA) to build its Biomass satellite aimed to next Earth Explorer mission.

The ESA Biomass mission will provide crucial information about the state of our forests and how they are changing. The data will be used to further our knowledge of the role forests play in the carbon cycle. Biomass will also provide essential support to UN on the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

The calibration transponder will receive signals from the satellite and transmit a reference signal to ensure the accurate calibration of the first space-borne P-band synthetic aperture radar to deliver exceptionally accurate maps of tropical, temperate and boreal forest biomass that are not obtainable by ground measurement techniques. The BCT antenna, in charge to IDS, has been configured as a passive dual-linear polarized planar array, realized through assembling four antenna segments, and responds to a number of challenging RF requirements in terms of Gain, SLL, XPD, channels imbalance, electrical boresight stability etc. In addition the antenna feature of being large-sized but lightweight (coarsely 5m diameter and 600 Kg weight) increased dramatically the challenges in complying with the RF requirements while maintaining accurate manufacturing, modularity, reliability and manoeuvrability.

The BCT antenna has been measured in the ESA HERTZ facility in March-April 2022 and the required performances have been successfully verified.