Fincantieri NexTech, through its subsidiary IDS – Ingegneria Dei Sistemi, 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 for the 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 better understand the role of forests 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 in order to deliver exceptionally accurate maps of tropical, temperate and boreal forest biomass, not obtainable by ground measurement techniques. The BCT antenna, in charge to IDS, has been set up as a passive dual-linear polarized planar array, realized by assembling four antenna segments, and responds to a number of challenging RF requirements in terms of Gain, SLL, XPD, channels imbalance, electrical boresight stability and others. In addition, the feature of the antenna to be large-sized but lightweight (coarsely 5m diameter and 600 Kg weight) has increased dramatically the challenges in complying with the RF requirements while maintaining accurate manufacturing, modularity, reliability and manoeuvrability.
This was the most demanding multi-disciplinary antenna design and development activity ever faced in IDS, requiring tight collaboration among electromagnetic, mechanical, measurement and logistic functions and a severe program control.
The BCT antenna has been measured in the ESA HERTZ facility in March-April 2022 and the required performances have been successfully verified.