First Filipino Satellite, Diwata, Set for 2016 Launch: Can It Actually Help in Disaster Mitigation?

By Staff Writer

Apr 06, 2015 10:03 AM EDT

Filipinos may heave a sigh of relief over news that one of two microsatellites slated for launch into space in 2016 may play a crucial role in improving weather forecasting, managing disasters, and protecting forests, among other  benefits.  It will also be a boon in terms of the preservation of natural and cultural heritage sites.

It's a known fact that the Philippines has had its share of super typhoons, landslides, and flash floods attributed to denuded forests. It is geographically situated at the frontline of typhoons coming from the Pacific Ocean. With better scientific devices and updated facilities, the country can alleviate suffering and poverty created by destruction of crops and other natural resources due to natural disasters. It's a big step forward, then, for the Philippines and neighboring countries.  

The Philippines' first satellite, named Diwata (which means fairy), will showcase the ingenuity of  Filipino students taking up masteral studies in Japan.  It is an amazing feat not just for the Filipino scientists involved, but for the entire Philippine scientific community.  The students who will build the first Philippine satellite have obtained a government scholarship and have been in Japan since the last quarter of 2014. The important project spearheaded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research will have state-of-the-art components. There will be a telescope that can assess damage extent from natural disasters. Reports say that once the first Pinoy-made satellite is launched into space, it will hover for about six minutes every time it passes (possibly four times) over the Philippines.  The estimated number of images that the satellite can capture each day 3,600. The images will be conveyed to the ground receiving station in Subic.

The University of the Philippines in Diliman, which is where a research laboratory will be set up, has been delegated the responsibility of developing enhancements to the program.

A second satellite is in the works and is timed for  a 2017 launch. For now, all eyes & ears are on "Diwata" which is touted as a breakthrough as far as predicting/evaluating environmental changes and counteracting the threatening effects of the changing climate are concerned.

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