The DOST-ASTI Launches Project on Terrestrial Monitoring and Maritime Surveillance

30 Oct 2020 11:27 AM

Computer generated image of NovaSAR-1 in orbit. (Credit: Surrey Satellite Technology Limited)

13 October 2020 - The DOST-Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI) continues to strengthen its initiatives on space technology through the launch of its Synthetic Aperture Radar and Automatic Identification System for Innovative Terrestrial Monitoring and Maritime Surveillance (SAR with AIS) Project. 

The launch was conducted through a virtual press briefer with the theme, Bantay ng Yamang Lupa at Karagatan Mula sa Kalawakan last 13 October. The event presented the public an overview of the technology behind the project, ongoing initiatives, and a demo of the project’s digital portal. 

The SAR with AIS Project focuses on terrestrial monitoring and maritime surveillance on high priority areas through simultaneous radar image and automatic identification system (AIS) data acquisition through the NovaSAR-1 satellite, developed by UK-based company Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL).  

Since the Start of Service (SoS) on August 2019, the DOST-ASTI has been accessing data from the NovaSAR-1 to enhance terrestrial and maritime monitoring. 

Promoting maritime and terrestrial domain awareness in the country 

DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Dr. Rowena Cristina Guevara opened the program, together with DOST-ASTI Solutions and Services Engineering Division Chief Alvin Retamar who gave an introduction on the SAR with AIS Project. 

"The returns [of the project] are so much more than the inputs. When it comes to saving lives because of the data available from our satellite subscriptions such as DIWATA-2 and NovaSAR-1, there is no value for life," said Undersecretary Guevara. 

With its capabilities in all-day and all-weather capture, with applications such as simultaneous ship detection, flood mapping, and structural identification, images and data acquired from the NovaSAR-1 can be especially helpful in disaster monitoring and managementPartner government agencies and institutions can make use of these data as part of their resources in crafting updated mitigation plans and measures. 

Senior Science Research Specialists Roel De La Cruz and Harold Bryan Paler discussed the many applications of data from the NovaSAR-1 satellite. 

“[With regard to] COVID-19, we showed the application of our monitoring capability in the maritime aspect. It is an indicator if there is an increase of decrease of economic activity in a certain area. You can always relate it to the context of our quarantine measures during COVID-19,” shares Engr. De La Cruz when asked if the satellite imagery available through the project can be useful in our situation today. 

SAR with AIS data is also used on the Artificial Intelligence for Census on Agriculture and Fisheries with the Philippine Statistics Authority. The project aims to identify and map aquaculture (fish pens/fish cages/fishpondsstructures all around the country, as well as count and estimate the area of major crops using AI and remote sensing techniques to aid PSA’s 2022 Census.  

SIYASAT Portal demonstration

Mr. Joshua Frankie Rayo, also a Senior Science Research Specialist, introduced the guests to the SIYASAT (Surveillance, Identification and Assessment using Satellites) Portal. This digital platform, accessible to the DOST-ASTI and its partner agencies, showcases earth observation data gathered from the NovaSAR-1 satellite through a secure and user-friendly distribution portal. Features of the portal include radar image and AIS data visualization with the capability to develop a risk index for each vessel based on archived AIS data. This can be accessed through

Satellites with capabilities like the NovaSAR-1 allow the DOST-ASTI to acquire a more robust data set when combined with information acquired from Philippine microsatellite Diwata-2, as well as other satellites. While our local microsatellites specialize in environmental monitoring and disaster management, the NovaSAR-1 is ideal for applications such as maritime and terrestrial surveillance, ship detection identification, oil spill monitoring, and agriculture – among many others.