DOST to launch microsatellite to gather data on disasters

By Ma. Cristina Arayata

October 26, 2018, 9:23 pm

MANILA -- A more refined Filipino-made microsatellite -- the Diwata-2 -- is set to be launched on Oct. 29.

In an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Friday afternoon, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara said the country's second microsatellite will be launched directly into the orbit, via the H-IIA F40 in Japan, at around 12:20 p.m., Pacific Standard Time.

This microsatellite will gather crucial data during man-made and natural disasters.

"We used to be reliant on data (or satellite images) that were given to us for free. Now, we could ask our people to get the data that we need," she said.

A microsatellite is also used for remote sensing.

"With the microsatellite, we could monitor vegetation and water changes, for instance. We could predict how many tons of rice could be produced in certain fields through the data that we could gather," Guevara said.

The executive noted that data from the microsatellite will be sent to the DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI).

ASTI will use programming and artificial technology to process the data, she continued.

Better microsatellite, more capable people

Guevara emphasized that many people missed the idea that the country's microsatellite program is actually a human resource development program.

"We now have 50 people capable of building satellites," she said, adding that these people were sent to Japan and UK to undergo an intensive training about microsatellites.

The Philippines previously launched the Diwata-1 into the outer space on April 27, 2016.

Diwata-1, the country's first microsatellite, was also made by a team of Filipino engineers.

Apart from being lighter and more cubic, the Diwata-2 has several edges from the Diwata-1.

Diwata-2 has five cameras, while the Diwata-1 has three. Also, the Diwata-2 will be launched at a higher altitude, according to Guevara.

"It will be 621 kilometers high, compared with Diwata-1 that reached 420 kilometers," she said.

The undersecretary also pointed out the longer lifespan of the Diwata-2, while also noting that the Diwata-1 is still functioning even if the expected lifespan is past its due.

"Diwata-1's lifespan is about 18 months, so it was supposed to expire in October 2017. But it is still there (in the orbit) and is still functioning. Diwata-2 was created and could last for 3-5 years," she said.

Another special thing about Diwata-2 is that it carries an amateur radio unit that was made in the Philippines.

"It was the first time that our engineers created such unit and design," Guevara emphasized.

She explained that this device would enable emergency communication when all else fails. It is capable of text and voice messaging.

Meanwhile, Guevara said the DOST is very confident that the launch of Diwata-2 will be successful.

"Before the year ends, we will open the microsatellite laboratory in the University of the Philippines. So more Filipinos will learn and be capable of crafting microsatellites," she said.

Guevara added that the country will produce more improved microsatellites in the future. (PNA)