Vol. XXV, 4th Quarter
How about getting a weather forecast months in advance? Or predicting where malaria, SARS, and other diseases are most likely to strike?
Normally, people would take this as an opportunity to schedule their activities to avoid any hassles. But for the Philippines which gets about 27 typhoons a year and harbors some vectors of malaria and other related diseases, this scenario would be very invaluable in saving people’s lives and property.
In the Second National Congress on Space Technology Applications and Research (NC-STAR) participants from various science agencies using space technology applications gave a solid support for a proposal to explore possibilities of acquiring or developing the country’s own earth observing satellite.
A resolution signed by about 25 government and private agencies declared that the earth observing satellite would provide real-time data crucial in disaster monitoring and weather forecasting.
“An earth observation system will be very beneficial to the country,” says Dr. Reynaldo Ebora, Executive Director of Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Council for Advanced Science and Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCASTRD), convenor of the congress. “The Philippines is perennially affected by natural disasters, making timely, synoptic space-based information a necessity.”
According to DOST’s space technology expert Dr. Jose Edgardo Aban, having our own earth observation satellite would make the Philippines self-sufficient in terms of satellite image acquisition.
An earth observation satellite, which is polar-orbiting and low-flying, monitors the earth’s land surface, biosphere, atmosphere, and oceans. It can track environmental changes in areas it is assigned. Through the satellite, processes that the earth undergoes, be it biological, ecological, climatological, or geological, can be monitored and better understood. This enables people, especially leaders and experts, to make more informed decisions that affect lives, the environment, and the economy.
Aside from enabling weather forecast and disease outbreak prediction, an earth observation system could effectively monitor forest fires, predict the effect of air quality on people, provide farmers with immediate forecast to help maximize agricultural yields, and calculate the pattern of typhoons and storms.
The NC-STAR’s participants also pushed for the formulation of policies and terms of reference to address issues on distribution and cost-effective use of space-related data, including security issues, and administrative and legal support for research and development.
Likewise proposed are the inclusion of satellite development and other related space technology applications subjects in the school curriculum and strengthening of the coordinative functions of the current Science and Technology Coordinating Council – Committee on Space Technology Applications (STCC-COSTA).