PH space initiative demonstrates voice capability of Diwata-2

Showing that the country’s second micro-satellite could be an effective communications tool especially during disasters, members of the Philippine space initiative held a live demonstration of the Amateur Radio Unit (ARU) onboard Diwata-2 on Friday, May 17.

Members of PH space program led by UP professor Joel Marciano demonstrated the capability of ARU (amateur radio unit) of Diwata 2 microsatellite by talking to another radio operator based in Dagupan, Pangasinan.

The live presentation was conducted at the Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute (EEEI) of the University of the Philippines in Diliman by members from the Space Technology and Applications Mastery, Innovation and Advancement (STAMINA4Space) Program, the successor to the Philippine Scientific Earth Observation Microsatellite or PHL-Microsat.

At around 1:30 in the afternoon, the ARU team successfully made contact with Diwata-2 and other radio users in Dagupan, as well as Okinawa in Japan.

The communication feature is potentially useful as an alternative means of communication during emergencies and disasters, as the ARU onboard satellites are not affected by conditions on the ground.

The ARU uses the 437.5 MHz frequency, which an ordinary amateur radio operator can access using improvised antennas and commercially available radio units. It was designed by Filipino engineers and features voice repeater and automatic packet reporting system (APRS) text messaging capabilities.

Because of the ARU payload, Diwata-2 was recently designated by the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT) as Philippines-OSCAR 101 (PO-101). On April 26, the team announced the Diwata-2 ARU’s readiness for service. OSCAR stands for Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio.

The demonstration event was held to help create more awareness on the benefits of space technology — two days before the third and final reading of Senate Bill 1983, also known as an Act Establishing the Philippine Space Development and Utilization Policy and Creating the Philippine Space Agency.

“We’re trying to create more awareness about the benefits of space technology in the effort to help push the Philippine Space Agency,” said STAMINA4Space program leader Joel Joseph Marciano Jr., who is also the acting director of the Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) of the Department of Science and Technology.

“Through data, industry and people, a space agency signals our march towards being a data-driven society and an information economy. It is about creating high value technologies and building interdisciplinary Filipino teams for tackling societal scale challenges,” he added.

What’s in the ARU?

  • Extremely wide coverage. The ARU is a spaceborne receiver/transmitter device which is placed into a 600 km orbit. Hence its high altitude means that any ham operator can access Diwata-2 and communicate with another station up to all over the Philippines and even internationally.
  • Any and all weather. Its high altitude means that it is unaffected by weather conditions and isavailable even when and after disasters strike.
  • Always there in time. The sun-synchronous orbit of Diwata-2 means a regularly occurring passes around noontime and midnight. Hence, you know when to access the ARU for calls and messages.

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