The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the National Security Council (NSC) signed a memorandum of agreement on Wednesday, May 19, to collaborate in the implementation of a satellite-based project to monitor the country’s land and maritime domains.
The government agencies will be implementing an initiative called Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Automatic Identification System (AIS) for the Innovative Terrestrial Monitoring and Maritime Surveillance.
The SAR with AIS Project has acquired the data-tasking services of the NovaSAR-1 satellite, allowing the country roughly three minutes of imaging (or a scope of 81,600 sq. km.) using the scanning SAR (ScanSAR) mode per day.
The agreement allows the Philippines, through DOST-ASTI, to access the NovaSAR-1 satellite for the whole lifespan of the spacecraft. The deal is aimed at getting relevant data on land and aquatic resources in support of the country’s requirements for enhanced monitoring of maritime and agricultural environments, infrastructure identification, and other beneficial applications.
The NovaSAR-1 satellite, which was designed and built by a British firm, is equipped with an AIS receiver, allowing for simultaneous ship detection in all-weather conditions with day and night imaging capabilities.
“The DOST and NSC will take another step forward and towards a new collaboration to ensure the interest and security of our nation. From this day onward, the council and the department have officially committed to endeavor on one of our projects geared towards terrestrial and maritime monitoring, the SAR with AIS Project,” said DOST secretary Fortunato de la Peña.
The DOST said SAR data can be used to monitor and detect a variety of objects. It is minimally affected by weather conditions, making it an efficient option for monitoring, it added.
The science agency said SAR with AIS data allows for the identification of the detected ships and the locations they have visited — information that is useful in guarding the country’s territorial waters against illegal vessels. Also, AIS data can be used to plot the trajectories of missing ships and assist in rescue operations.
“The SAR with AIS project plays a big role in research and development with its complex capabilities and expertise on terrestrial monitoring and maritime surveillance for national security; and I believe that this is something the National Security Council have always valued,” said DOST-ASTI director Franz A. De Leon.
National Security Council director general Hermogenes Esperon Jr. cited the efforts of the DOST and the Philippine Space Agency to advance space technology in the country.
“We had small steps, but we made our presence known. With this project, we have accelerated our interest in outer space, and we do it through the NovaSAR satellite. We can now capture image for maritime monitoring purposes including other interests in national security,” Esperon added.