June 2023

(St. John’s, NL) – C-CORE is pleased to announce that the hardware package for the Biomass Calibration Transponder has been successfully installed at the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Deep Space Antenna Station in New Norcia, Western Australia.

The subsystems include a P-band planar phased array antenna mounted on a positioner capable of precisely tracking the path of the Airbus built ESA Biomass satellite, with both housed beneath a radome. The photograph below shows the radome being lowered over the antenna (at zenith) and the positioner.



An external pole mounted moveable disc (TCS) provides an external calibration source remote from the main antenna. A P-Band transceiver/controller (CMS) located in the antenna building sends and receives the RF signals to and from the Biomass satellite providing the calibration reference for the instrument.

The installation was led by C-CORE St John’s, Newfoundland (CMS & TCS) with their sub-contractors HITEC Luxembourg (Positioner), IDS Ingegneria dei Sistemi Pisa, Italy (Antenna), and FDS Tiggiano, Italy (Radome). Close cooperation between the main installation team and local contractors ensured that the installation and commissioning were completed in one month with the weather being kind for the more challenging aspects of the installation. A view of the installation with the Calibration Transponder building and the TCS mast is shown below.



Desmond Power, C-CORE’s Vice President of Remote Sensing said “It’s been a challenging journey to this point since this calibration transponder is the world’s first cal-transponder operating at P-band and the world’s first self-calibrating precision transponder designed for synthetic aperture radar. I commend our team for a job well done in executing a safe and problem-free installation.”

Chris Lloyd, Biomass Project Manager at Airbus Defence and Space said: “This is a significant step in the Biomass program, with hardware developed in St John’s Canada and then being installed half way round the globe on the east coast of Australia.  It moves us one step closer to being able to systematically measure the carbon stored in the world’s forests.

Michael Fehringer ESA Project Manager, concluded with:  “The Biomass calibration transponder is an enabling element for the mission success and I congratulate the teams for this important step. Major efforts were needed to prepare a site that minimizes any environmental RF contributions to the transponder operations.  I particularly thank the ESA colleagues from ESOC and their local support team from CISRO for achieving this and building the infrastructure to host the transponder.”


Software installation and final commissioning will happen in New Norcia in Q4 2023.


ESA’s Earth Explorer missions form the science and research element of the Living Planet Programme, which includes also the operational service-oriented Earth Watch missions.  Earth Explorer missions focus on the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere and the Earth’s interior with emphasis on the interactions between these components and on the impact that human activities have on the Earth’s processes, in line with the challenges outlined in “The Changing Earth” (ESA SP-1304).

BIOMASS was selected as the 7th Earth Explorer mission in Spring 2013 at the User Consultation Meeting in Graz, Austria and will be the 4th Core Earth Explorer Mission. The overall objective of the mission is to reduce the uncertainty in the worldwide spatial distribution and dynamics of forest biomass in order to improve current assessments and future projections of the global carbon cycle.


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Media Contact:

Jared Remedios
Communications & Marketing Manager, C-CORE