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First Philippine microsatellite DIWATA to be launched in April 2016

Adrian M. Reodique | Jan. 19, 2016
DIWATA will be sending images and data to Philippine Earth Data Resources and Observation (PEDRO) centre.

DIWATA, the first microsatellite designed, developed, and assembled by Filipinos. Photo credit: Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines 

DIWATA, the first Philippine microsatellite, is set to be launched this April from the International Space Station.

Officials of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), University of the Philippines (UP Diliman), Tohoku University (TU), and Hokkaido University (HU) have already turned over the DIWATA to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to prepare the microsatellite for its launch.

Under the three-year PHL-MICROSAT or DIWATA programme, seven engineering students from University of the Philippines and two science researchers from the Advanced Science and Technology Institute of DOST (DOST-ASTI) were sent to HU and TU in Japan to work on the microsatellite bus system and payload design, under the guidance of experts, while pursuing advanced degrees.

The team for bus development worked on the design, implementation, and the testing of various structural, mechanical, and electrical aspects of the microsatellite. The payload and mission design team were tasked to contribute on science mission analysis and objectives leading to specifications of payload sensors and instruments; while the latter group studied the technical specifications of the payload instruments for proper testing and calibration of its outputs.

The rest of the team at UP Diliman worked on developing a group receiving station (GRS) to allow transmission of space borne images to earth, and the sending of commands to the microsatellite.

According to a press release from the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development, DIWATA is a low earth orbit (LEO) satellite which is set to fly 400 kilometres above the earth and weighs 50 kilograms. The microsatellite will be sending images and data to the Philippine Earth Data Resources and Observation (PEDRO) centre.

DIWATA 1 carries a high precision telescope (HPT) that can determine the extent of damages caused by disasters like typhoons and volcanic eruptions. It can also monitor changes in cultural and natural heritage sites, forest cover, mining and territorial borders of the Philippines.  DIWATA also has a space borne multispectral imager (SMI) with LCTF to help monitor changes in country's vegetation and oceans productivity.

The microsatellite is also equipped with a wide field camera that could provide scientists and weather forecasters a better observation of cloud patterns and accurate predictions of weather disturbances. It also has a middle field camera that helps determine the locations of images captured by the HPT and SMI.

As part of the programme, the team will be working on the development of DIWATA-2 that is set to be launched in 2017.

On top of these, the team plans to develop a course and training materials about small satellite technology design and testing which are proposed to be used into elective courses of science and engineering undergraduate and postgraduate students; and at the same time conduct local industry short seminars.


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