As part of its long-term goal to nurture the emerging space technology industry in the Philippines, researchers from the Advanced Science and Technology Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-ASTI) successfully communicated with Diwata-2 through the latest addition to our space infrastructure, the Iloilo Ground Receiving Station (GRS).
The team of researchers led by DOST-ASTI Director Franz A. de Leon visited the Iloilo GRS from 27 July to 04 August 2022 to personally observe the operation of the facility. During the visit, the team conducted testing, validation, and initial operations of the ground receiving station. The team also met with Dumangas Mayor Braeden John Biron to discuss possible collaborations to better deliver the service.
“The operationalization of the Iloilo GRS is a welcome development, and it is a great addition to our existing space technology infrastructure. We wanted to establish a ground station on every major island in the country. With the Iloilo GRS in place, we now have stations in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. This will allow for greater operational flexibility and the needed redundancy of critical infrastructures,” said de Leon.
The Iloilo GRS, located in the Climate Field School in Dumangas, Iloilo, is equipped with a 3.5-meter Earth Observation satellite tracking antenna. Initially erected in 2019, the testing for the operationalization of the antenna started in 2019 by researchers from the Philippine Earth Data Resource and Observation (PEDRO) Center. However, due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, delays on the testing of the antenna occurred.
“We’re very proud to announce that the Iloilo GRS is now operational. The GRS will now be used as one of the primary ground infrastructures for Diwata operations. We initially wanted to start the operations of the Iloilo GRS in 2020, but due to the travel restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, we were only able to travel to Iloilo now,” said PEDRO Center’s Senior Science Research Specialist Harold Bryan Paler.
The satellite tracking antenna was made possible through the collaboration between DOST-ASTI and Hokkaido University in Japan through the project Understanding Lightning and Thunderstorms for Extreme Weather Monitoring and Information Sharing (ULAT). The project is also implemented in cooperation with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) as an Official Development Assisted (ODA) project.
“The Iloilo Ground Receiving Station can provide a larger network for easier and faster download of Diwata images. The target pointing capability of Diwata can be used to capture stereo-images of convective systems to better understand their evolution and structure during or at the onset of convection,” said ULAT Project’s Senior SRS Ellison Castro.
The ULAT Project aims to understand the country's weather patterns by studying rainfall and lightning occurrences and their relationship with each other, which may improve our short-term forecasts. One of the project’s facets is to improve extreme weather monitoring by creating 3D models of thunderclouds using meteorological satellites. With this capability, the project can help improve weather forecasting to keep vulnerable communities safe.
Aside from DOST-ASTI, the establishment of the GRS in Iloilo is also looking to benefit the local community.
“We are also in early talks with Dumangas Mayor Braeden Biron on how we can use the ground station for Dumangas. Right now, we are looking into providing satellite image services to the community and then conducting training about remote sensing applications to the academe and their relevant government agencies. Aside from satellite image services, we could also offer other technologies offered by DOST-ASTI such as wireless technologies and other ICT,” Engr. Paler added. (By Katrina Mina, DOST-ASTI)
The PEDRO Center is the facility that established ground receiving stations in the country equipped with satellite tracking antennas that receive, process, and distribute spaceborne data. These can be used for various applications such as disaster risk management, environmental monitoring, and terrestrial and maritime surveillance. Currently, the PEDRO Center also has facilities in Metro Manila (est. 2016) and Davao City (est. 2019).