This circular antenna, which belongs to the Biomass mission, which will soon map all the forests on Earth, is five meters wide. Here he is in the “Hertz radio frequency test room”, a strange-looking space space filled with lone blue foam pyramids at Estec, the technical arm of the European Space Agency (ESA) in Noordwijk.
Those pyramids are not there because they look so beautiful. They should absorb any wireless signals hitting the wall so you can test the instruments without the signals bouncing and singing around the room.
The giant antenna – the largest ever in this test room – will become part of the biomass ground station. The associated satellite, which is due to launch next year, will soon use low-frequency radar signals to look into forests. This type of radiation passes through the forest canopy more easily, so the satellite can also see individual trees.
Testing the ground antenna was a huge challenge for engineers at the European Space Agency due to its size. Because it almost touches the walls of the room, new measurement methods had to be developed, among other things.