November 19, 2019
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

PHL Largest Tracking Antenna for Diwata Satellites Now Operating in Davao

(SDN) — ANOTHER tracking antenna, another milestone.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) now owns two satellite antennas for tracking the movements of the Philippines’ “twin” eyes-in-the-sky named Diwata-1 and Diwata-2.

Three years ago the Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI) established the first Ground Receiving Station (GRS) of the Philippine Earth Data Resource and Observation (PEDRO) Center at ASTI located at the compound of the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) in Quezon City.

PEDRO is a complement of the Philippine Scientific Earth Observation Microsatellite (Phil-Microsat) Program under the DOST funded with some Php800 million.

ASTI described the establishment of the tracking stations as an unfolding milestone, saying the GRS in Davao City at the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Transmitter Facility is so far the country’s “largest tracking antenna for earth observation (EO) satellites.”

In a press statement reaching SDN — Science and Digital News, it was learned the D-GRS is now in full operation mode and “provides additional capacity and redundancy to the functions” to the first GRS.

“The PEDRO Center, since its start of operation, has been receiving satellite-captured images from various earth-observation satellites, including the Philippines’ very own Diwata-1 and Diwata-2 microsatellites, alongside other supported foreign satellites,” ASTI’s statement said.

AST PEDRO Center in Davao City

DOST officials headed by Secretary Fortunato dela Peña (5th from left), alongside with [from left] PEDRO Center’s Project Leader Mr. Alvin Retamar; CAAP Engineer Caesar Macahilig; DOST-XI Director Anthony Sales; Undersecretary for Regional Operations Brenda Nazareth-Manzano; Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Renato Solidum; Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD) Executive Director Enrico C. Paringit; and DOST-ASTI Acting Director Joel Joseph S. Marciano, Jr., pose in front of the radome housing the tracking antenna in the Davao Ground Receiving Station (D-GRS) of the Philippine Earth Data Resource Observation (PEDRO) Center of the DOST-ASTI.

With its presence in Mindanao, the D-GRS serves as an auxiliary antenna for the PEDRO Center in Quezon City which ensures that during catastrophes and impending threats of disaster in Manila, the Center has a back that can still receive earth surface information.

Designed to communicate with earth observation satellites by receiving, processing, and distributing space-borne imagery, these ground receiving stations also have direct access to a broad range of optical (high-resolution, multispectral) and synthetic aperture radar (cloud-penetrating, day-night-imaging) satellite data. Simply put, these ground facilities can upload commands and can download data captured by satellites deployed in space.

For the time being, the D-GRS is remotely-operated and is used for initial tests such as MODIS data from satellites such as Terra and Aqua. Compared to the PEDRO Center with only 3.7 meters, the D-GRS has a 7.3-meter satellite-tracking antenna which will allow more efficient download of images at a higher bandwidth.

ASTI Davao PEDRO Center SFTP

DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña, with DOST Undersecretary Renato Solidum, tours the D-GRS. (All images from DOST-ASTI)

Both antennas are contained inside a radome, a special spherical structure enclosing the antennas from physical forces while still allowing reception of satellite signals. The radome can withstand temperatures up to 80°C, wind speed of up to 320km/hr, and rainfall at 100mm/hr for one (1) hour, thereby prolonging the effective lifespan of the antennas.

D-GRS’ direct reception of data from earth observation satellite images provides the PEDRO Center more capability in near real-time acquisition of information. With the ASTI and Davao GRS in full operation, the reception, processing, and satellite data storage cycle will open more opportunities to promote inclusive innovation, reaching more Filipino scientists and researchers in return.

“The GRS facilities of the PEDRO Center are vital infrastructure for pre- and post-disaster monitoring that support our DRR agencies,” ASTI said.

DOST Region XI headed by Regional Director Dr. Anthony Sales supported the establishment of the D-GRS, the CAAP, and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT).

About the PEDRO Center

The PEDRO Center located at and operated by the DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute, serves as the country’s main gateway in accessing geospatial data from earth observation satellites for various scientific research and operational activities. The Center complements the Stamina4Space (formerly PHL-MICROSAT Program), where DOST-ASTI is one of the main proponents. The PEDRO Center receives daily imagery and data from the Philippines’ DIWATA-1 and DIWATA-2 microsatellites, alongside other supported foreign satellites. (SDN/DOST-ASTI

Featured image of the Davao Ground Receiving Station (D-GRS) at the Civil Aviation Authority Philippines (CAAP) Transmitter Facility in Davao City. All images are from DOST-ASTI.ao

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