SAR with AIS Project for Monitoring PH Territories

11 Mar 2021 5:32 PM

11 March 2021 – To showcase current initiatives of the project, stakeholders of the Synthetic Aperture Radar and Automatic Identification System for Innovative Terrestrial Monitoring and Maritime Surveillance (SAR with AIS) Project gather in an online meeting last 11 March 2021. 

We are committed to delivering innovative feats to our partners and stakeholders, as we understand their contribution in the development and success of DOST’s initiatives. Today’s event allows us to share our accomplishments in research making way for informed discussions and further improvements for the betterment of the project and the people it serves, said DOST Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña.  

Among the stakeholders present include the National Coast Watch System (NCWS), National Security Council (NSC) and the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine Navy, Philippine Airforce, Philippine Coast Guard, Laguna Lake Development Authority, Space Technology Applications Mastery, Innovation, and Advancement (STAMINA4Space) Program among others were also present in the event.  

PhilSA is in the midst of building up a dedicated unit, the Space Security Technologies Divisions under our Space Industry and Strategic Business Development Bureau for collaborating with the national defense and security establishments in determining the requirements for Earth and marine observation, secure communication, surveillance and navigational technologies and applications development. In this group, PhilSA aims to effectively absorb and enhance the current methods and capabilities developed by the SAR with AIS Project in furthering the development of solutions that are tailor-fit to the requirements of growing number of end-users,” said Philippine Space Agency Director-General Joel Joseph Marciano Jr.  

The PhilSA will build from the successes of this SAR with AIS Project and commits to expanding its reach and benefits,” Director-General Marciano added.  

“Space innovation has not only led to advancements in earth observation methods, but it further highlights the connections between new ideas and methods in monitoring our territories. We plan on strengthening our R&D infrastructure through our network and stakeholders,” said DOST Undersecretary Rowena Cristina L. Guevara.  

Started in June 2018, the SAR with AIS Project equipped researchers with access to data tasking and sharing capabilities of the NovaSAR-1 satellite to enhance terrestrial and maritime monitoring around the country.  

NovaSAR-1 is a small S-Band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite launched into a 580-km sun-synchronous orbit in September 2018. The earth-observation SAR satellite has multiple features conducive to the Philippines’ atmospheric and climatic conditions. Its SAR capabilities enable it to acquire earth observation data through cloud cover and detect marine structures such as marine vessels and aquaculture systems. 

The AIS receiver payload allows the satellite to collect ship information across the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The agreement allows the Philippines to access the NovaSAR-1 satellite until the lifespan of the spacecraft. 


The Synthetic Aperture Radar and Automatic Identification System for Innovative Terrestrial Monitoring and Maritime Surveillance (SAR with AIS) Project is a directed research and development initiative with funding from the Department of Science and Technology’s Grants-in-Aid Program. 

Housed in the Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI), 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, Ltd (SSTL). As such, the DOST-ASTI now serves as the hub for the SAR with AIS project activities in the country. 


The NovaSAR-1 satellite was designed and built by SSTL, while the SAR payload is courtesy of Airbus United Kingdom (UK) and the AIS Receiver by Honeywell Aerospace.   

The agreement allows the Philippines, through DOST-ASTI, to access the NovaSAR-1 satellite until the lifespan of the spacecraft. It is intended to provide relevant data on land and aquatic resources in support of the country’s requirements for enhanced monitoring of maritime and agricultural environments, infrastructure identification, and other beneficial applications. 


The SAR with AIS project is being implemented by the DOST in response to coordinated inputs from various local stakeholders, including Philippine national government agencies such as the National Coast Watch System (NCWS), National Security Council (NSC), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), and the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) 

The datasets from the NovaSAR-1 satellite are received through the Philippine Earth Data Resource and Observation (PEDRO) Center, while the secure storage and archiving of the data is coursed through the Computing and Archiving Research Environment (COARE). The data processing and analysis are spearheaded by the researchers from the PEDRO Center and the Remote Sensing and Data Science (DATOS) Help Desk with the utilization of High-Performance Computing resources of the DOST-ASTI. 


Satellite tracking antenna in Davao Ground Receiving Station

The ground segment engineers recently conducted maintenance and upgrade procedures on the Davao Ground Receiving Station (DGRS) to receive data directly from the NovaSAR-1 satellite. Direct reception of satellite data translates to faster availability of useful information making us more responsive to critical events such as disaster response. 

Received data is immediately transferred to the mission operations center for processinganalysis, archiving, and distribution. 


The Surveillance, Identification and Assessment Using Satellites (SIYASAT) Portal interface.

The mission operations team also launched the Surveillance, Identification, and Assessment using Satellites (SIYASAT) Portal, a data collection and planning system that enables partner agencies and institutions to submit image capture requests for the NovaSAR-1 satellite. Partner agencies can now anticipate capture opportunities for their areas of interest. 

Using the SIYASAT Portal, users can also view and download radar images and AIS data. Alerts and reports are sent automatically once newly captured data is available on their area of interest. It fulfills the objectives of the Project because it ensures that we can maximize the imaging capacity of the satellite every time it passes over the country. 

SIYASAT portal users’ training held on 02 December 2019 at DOST-ASTI.

The DOST-ASTI also undertakes and organizes capacity-building trainings and engagement activities on the utilization of the data for partners in the government and academe in the Philippines. 


SAR data can be used to monitor and detect a variety of objects. SAR data is minimally affected by weather conditions making it an efficient option for monitoring. SAR data which captures information in the microwave range has been used to map objects in or on water due to the high contrast between the low backscatter emitted by the water bodies and the high backscatter values reflected by the objects floating in water. This distinguishes aquaculture infrastructures (e.g., fishponds, fish pens and fish cages) and water. This same quality of SAR data allows for the monitoring and mapping of ships.  

SAR data is also used to generate temporal signatures of crops. Since clouds have little effect on SAR data, information regarding the crops can be obtained even on cloudy days, thus, more information is acquired and the whole cycle (from planting to harvesting) of the particular crop can be charted. This chart or signature will be used as reference and will be compared to the temporal signature of crops in other locations. Matching signatures indicate that the crops are potentially of the same type. 

SAR with AIS data provides for a more detailed information regarding ships being detected. AIS data allows for the identification of the detected ships and the locations they have visited. This information is very useful in guarding our water territories against illegal vessels and in determining hidden motives of unauthorized ships. Also, AIS data can be used to plot trajectories of missing ships and assist in rescue operations. 


Media Contacts:


Neyzielle Ronnicque Cadiz 

Information Officer, DOST-ASTI 

+63 939 3904814 


Katrina Mina 

Project Evaluation Officer, DOST-ASTI  

+63 915 859 5199