Diwata, the first micro-satellite built by an all-Filipino team, was turned over recently to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (Jaxa) to prepare for its launch into space in April.
Officials of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), UP Diliman, Tohoku University (TU), and Hokkaido University (HU) handed over the project following the completion of the assembly and testing of the 50-kg Philippine Earth Observation Microsatellite. It is set to be released into space from the International Space Station (ISS) later this April.
Recognizing the advantages of using satellite-based remote sensing, the government has invested in the construction and launching of the Philippine scientific earth observation micro-satellite, under the PHL-Microsat or Diwata program, with the budget of P800 million for three years.
Diwata is the country?s first micro-satellite designed, developed, and assembled by Filipino researchers and engineers under the guidance of Japanese experts from Hokkaido University and Tohoku University. The satellite is designed to provide real-time images for disaster risk management and other applications.
Seven engineering students from the University of the Philippines and two science researchers from DOST?s Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI) were sent to Tohoku University and Hokkaido University in Japan to work on the micro-satellite bus system and payload design while pursuing advanced degrees, as part of the PHL-Microsat program.
The bus development team worked on the design, the implementation, and the testing of various structural, mechanical, and electrical aspects of the micro-satellite bus.
The payload and mission design team on the other hand contributed to the science mission analysis and objectives that lead to the specifications of the payload sensors and instruments. The team studied the technical specifications of the payload instruments towards proper testing and calibration of its outputs.
As a result of their efforts, the country now has the micro-satellite known as ?Diwata.?
Part of the three-year program is the development of a second micro-satellite (Diwata 2) to be launched in 2017.
The PHL-Microsat team also intends to develop course and training materials on small satellite technology design and testing, which are proposed to be incorporated into science and engineering undergraduate and postgraduate elective courses, as well as local industry short seminars.
A micro-satellite simulator and test-bed, antenna design and testing facility and amateur radio satellite station are also currently being set up as part of the establishment of the local micro-satellite research and instructional facility within UP Diliman.
The rest of the PHL-Microsat team at UP Diliman are focused on developing a ground receiving station (GRS) that will allow space borne images to be transmitted to earth. It will also be used to transmit commands from the ground to the micro-satellite to carry out is mission effectively.
Diwata-1 is a low earth orbit (LEO) satellite set to fly 400km above the earth. It serves as a training platform and will pave the way for the Filipino team to further develop their skills in space technology.
More than this, the potential uses of Diwata?s images include improved weather detection and forecasts, disaster risk management, detecting agricultural growth patterns, and the monitoring of forest cover, mining, protection of cultural and historical sites, and the territorial borders of the Philippines.
Diwata will be sending vital images and data back to Philippine Earth Data Resources and Observation (Pedro) Center which was set up to receive data from the satellite
Diwata 1 is equipped with a high precision telescope (HPT) that can determine the extent of damages from disasters, like typhoons and volcanic eruptions. It can also monitor changes in cultural and natural heritage sites, like the Mount Apo or Mayon Volcano.
Its spaceborne multi-spectral imager (SMI) with LCTF will be able to monitor changes in vegetation and monitor oceans productivity.
It also carries a wide field camera that will help scientists and weather forecasters better observe cloud patterns and more accurately predict weather disturbances. Its middle field camera assists in determining the locations of images captured using the HPT and SMI.