Satellite to Measure Earth's Forests

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A satellite will monitor Earth's forests.

The European Space Agency has approved plans to send a satellite into orbit that can measure how much carbon is being stored in the Earth’s forests, along with mapping out and measuring its exact locations.

Scientists are planning the launch of the Biomass satellite in the year 2020, with an expected five year mission in space.

The spacecraft will be able to collect data on large trees and branches using radar technology, and the information will help scientists better understand the carbon cycle of the planet.

The Biomass satellite project is one of seven Earth Explorer satellites designed to collect data on different natural conditions.

The three related missions that have already gone into orbit gave researchers information about gravity, ocean salinity, polar ice coverage, and soil moisture conditions.

The range of the satellite will exclude Europe, North America and the Arctic.

Professor Shaun Quegan thinks that the restrictions won’t diminish the importance of the project.

He said: “It hardly affects the tropics where the really big unknowns are. It doesn't affect the whole of Eurasia where the big boreal forests are found; and it doesn't affect the temperate forests of China where the biggest re-growth on the planet is occurring.”