2022,  Media Release

DOST, PhilSA working together towards efficient and sustainable space programs in the country

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), through its Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI), and the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) entered into an agreement that would further help the advancement and sustainability of various space related efforts in the country. 

A signing of the Memorandum of Agreement was held on 25 April 2022 for the transition of so called “Space Science and Technology Assets (SSTA) from the DOST to PhilSA. This collaborative effort will center on facilitating the smooth operation of the Philippine Earth Data Resource and Observation (PEDRO) Center, Remote Sensing and Data Science Help Desk (DATOS), SARwAIS Project, and the GRASPED Project. All of them are currently being maintained or implemented by DOST-ASTI. 

PhilSA was created in 2019 after President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed the Republic Act No. 11363 mandating them to serve as the central government agency for all space activities and S&T applications in the country. 

“Today, we leave all these infrastructures, all these capabilities in the hands of the Philippine Space Agency, confident that they will further cultivate it as we have intended,” said DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña.

However, he assured that expect the DOST to continue working with PhilSA and other government agencies as the Science department will provide much needed support to various space activities and through cooperative use of our existing science infrastructures such as our high-performance computing facility and our national research and education network. 

Meanwhile, DOST-ASTI Director Franz A. De Leon shared that PhilSA did not build from scratch as they have been promoting and implementing numerous space related researches before it came into fruition. 

“DOST will always be working hand-in-hand with Philippine Space Agency by providing relevant science and technology innovation in space R&D,” said Dir. De Leon. 

PhilSA Director General Dr. Joel Joseph S. Marciano Jr, that even though they are tasked to address all the concerns to space science, technology, and applications, they were not able to fulfill their mandate without building and strengthening the local space ecosystem and DOST and its attached agencies are vital parts for that ecosystem.

“With these projects and outputs being turned over to us, PHilSA and DOST will continue working hand in hand towards inclusive development through science, technology, and innovation. This signing is an important step towards the fulfillment of our vision of a nation rich, uplifted, and empowered through space,” said Dir.Gen Marciano.  

Our place in space

Starting 2014, the DOST through ASTI have been laying the groundwork for the country’s space science and technology assets. The DOST had been the home for the country’s space science and technology assets when the proposal for Diwata-1 came about. The Department funded the PHL Microsat Program, which developed the Diwata-1 and Diwata-2 microsatellites, and Maya-1. 

Aside from microsatellites, the DOST has also deployed several nanosatellites in space. In cooperation with the Kyushu Institute of Technology under the BIRDS project, the agency has launched Maya-1, 2, 3 and 4 over the years. 

Inevitably, the satellites in space require a means to communicate with them. The same year that Diwata-1 was launched, the DOST established the PEDRO Center. In 2019, the GRASPED Project was operationalized to undertake systematic operations of the Diwata microsatellites, and the subsequent processing, archiving, and distribution of data products. 

These facilities are equipped with earth observation satellite tracking antennas that send and receive data from the satellites. As of today, we have two functioning ground receiving stations in Manila and Davao City, strategically placed to complement each other’s functions, and ensure that there is reliability and redundancy in operations. 

Meanwhile, the DOST has funded the DATOS in 2017 and SARwAIS in 2018 to maximize the provision and availability of free commercial satellite datasets from the PEDRO center. Both of them make use of the DOST-ASTI’s science infrastructures to come up with on-demand simulation modeling and analysis using RS/GIS tools. Additional to that, part of the project objectives is to coordinate and collaborate with mandated agencies in validating the accuracy and acceptability of DATOS and SARwAIS outputs for sharing with agencies and LGUs for disaster management policy and decision-making support. 

DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña and PhilSA Director General Dr. Joel Joseph S. Marciano Jr led the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement between both agencies for the transition of the “Space Science and Technology Assets” from DOST-ASTI to PhilSA. (Photo from DOST-ASTI)
The Davao Ground Receiving Station or D-GRS serves a as multi-mission ground control station for receiving, processing and distributing multi-sensor images and telemetry data from various earth observation satellites. It provides additional capacity and redundancy to the functions of the Philippine Earth Data Resource and Observation (PEDRO) Center housed at DOST-ASTI office in Quezon City. (Text and photo by Allan Mauro V. Marfal, DOST-STII)