DOST Inaugurates Iloilo Ground Station – March 10, 2023

23 Mar 2023 3:30 PM

DOST Inaugurates Iloilo Ground Station
(embargoed until 12NN 10 March 2023)

Dumangas, Iloilo – The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) finally unveils the third Ground Receiving Station (GRS) today, March 10, 2023, at the Climate Field School in Dumangas, Iloilo.  This event completes the establishment of ground stations in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The facility maximizes DOST’s capacity to download captured images and upload commands to orbiting Philippine satellites like the Diwata-2 and other relevant satellites.  The Iloilo GRS enables researchers from all three stations to remotely access and simultaneously use the facilities. 

“With the Iloilo GRS in place, we now have ground stations in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. This strengthens our capacity to understand weather and lightning data, inevitably advancing our potential for disaster risk reduction and management.   This also creates opportunities for our scientists to further our projects in agricultural management and make use of technologies for maritime domain awareness and even environmental concerns such as natural and man-made disasters,” said DOST Secretary Renato U. Solidum, Jr.

As one of the ground stations used for the operations of the Diwata-2 microsatellite, the Iloilo GRS captures in real-time the temperature, humidity, and data of multiple locations.  Communications with the microsatellite happen four times a day when the Diwata orbits within the horizon of the GRS.  Data downloaded per day ranges from 40 to 50 images. The images are distributed to government agencies and local government units for applications related to disaster assessment, environmental monitoring, and maritime surveillance. 

The Iloilo satellite tracking antenna was made possible with 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 in cooperation with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) as an Official Development Assisted (ODA) project.

The Department has established a longstanding collaboration with Japan, resulting in numerous programs focused on space technology development and disaster risk management. Notable among the many contributions of Japan to the Philippine S&T system is the development of the country's space program.  Diwata-1 and Diwata-2 microsatellites were developed in cooperation with Tohoku University and Hokkaido University with support from the DOST. Diwata-1 was deployed into orbit last 27 April 2023 and was decommissioned on 06 April 2020, surpassing its forecasted lifespan of 18 months. Diwata-1's predecessor Diwata-2, which is still in orbit, was launched last 29 October 2018.

“With the station’s advanced technology, we can receive and process large amounts of data close to real-time, allowing us to monitor the Earth’s environment, weather patterns, and other important phenomena,” said DOST Undersecretary for R&D Leah J. Buendia.  “We can use this information to make informed decisions that will positively impact our environment, from predicting weather patterns and events, monitoring changes in land use to even security, defense, and safety.”

The Iloilo GRS houses a 3.5-meter Earth Observation satellite tracking antenna that serves as a complement to the activities and functions of the two other ground stations previously established by the DOST.  

The first satellite ground station was established in 2016 at the DOST Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) Building in Quezon City, which houses a 3.7-meter antenna. The second one in Davao was inaugurated in 2019, and is equipped with a 7.3-meter tracking antenna located in the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

The researchers from the Philippine Earth Data Resource and Observation (PEDRO) Center of DOST-ASTI initiated the testing of the antenna of the Iloilo GRS until its full operation in 2022.  

“DOST-ASTI will use the GRS as one of the primary platforms for research and development in the field of disaster risk reduction and management. The space data gathered from the GRS will be used to complement ground-based lightning measurements to monitor extreme weather disturbances like typhoons as it passes through the country,” said DOST-ASTI Director Franz A. De Leon.

Aside from DOST-ASTI, the establishment of the GRS in Iloilo is also looking to benefit the local community through providing satellite image services to cater for the needs of the community on different applications such as mangroves and other agricultural monitoring. DOST also hopes to conduct training series in the community regarding remote sensing applications for the effective use of the provided satellite images.


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Katrina T. Mina