UP Diliman Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute
Dr. Marc Talampas
In 2005, it was already a vision of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to develop the Philippines’ first small satellite. Early this year, DOST’s interest was revived by a Japanese expert from Hokkaido University who presented Japan’s small satellite initiatives within the scope of the Japanese FIRST (Funding Program for World Leading Innovative R&D on Science and Technology) program. The aforementioned program includes the development and launching of several microsatellites by end of 2013, including one scientific microsatellite under international cooperation with Vietnam. This program aims to enhance the activities of world’s most small satellites researches and build the basis of new paradigm for the future which is cost-effective and reliable microsatellites widely utilized for both research and business purposes.
Advances in microelectronics, sensors and computing have afforded further miniaturization of electronic systems while continuing to improve both available computational power and energy consumption. These innovations have enhanced the reliability and capability of microsatellites and they have become an increasingly attractive platform for testing new systems in space due to the relatively faster development time and lower cost of development and operation. With the advent of a microsatellite constellation network in Asia, it is a challenge for the Philippines to support capacity building of talented local engineers and researchers in developing its first scientific microsatellite program as a viable entry point to a full-blown space program. An archipelago such as the Philippines would benefit from a canopy-like coverage that such satellites can afford – a satellite that is fully controlled by the government for educational, research and other services will enable flexibility and faster turnaround for scientific measurements and experimentation. In light of regular typhoons and other natural calamities, providing on-demand and real-time access to remote sensing and high-resolution satellite imagery to facilitate risk assessment and disaster response fills a crucial void for the country.
The local development of microsatellites serves as an outstanding platform for convergence of various technical backgrounds – from embedded electronic systems and computing, signal processing, electric power, mechanical control, imaging sensors and payload design to analysis of remote sensing data. The research and development will draw upon the competencies and knowhow of various institutions to enable useful applications for the Philippines in agriculture, meteorology, climate change and disaster risk management and response. In this light, the proposed program consists of five (5) component projects that aim to comprehensively address the various components of successfully developing and launching a microsatellite into space and subsequently utilizing and maximizing the data that it makes available for the country.