Philippines' $19 Million USD First Space Telescope Celebrates First Anniversary in Orbit

Diwata-1 in orbit
Diwata-1 : First Philippines' $19 Million US Dollars "Space Telescope" in orbit. Photo: UPD

Diwata-1 Philippines’ first micro satellite is just simply a 50 kilogram Space telescope with cost $19 Million US Dollars, High Precision Telescope (HTP) installed and launched to observe the Earth, monitor climate changes, and develop human resources. The microsatellite is not the typical satellite that used for telecommunication and navigation as its function is to take photos on earth but this could be a milestone for the Philippines Space Agency to develop its owned technology to launch a communication satellite in the future.

Diwata-1 was developed by the Philippine government’s DOST in partnership with Japan Universities following the ISS Japanese Experiment Module ("Kibo"). It was then housed in the satellite install case and shipped out to the United States commercial cargo vehicle on 18th January  2016 then successfully sent into orbit 27th April 2016.

Diwata-1 celebrates over 5,000 orbits in its first year in space 

Diwata-1, has traveled around the world some 5,000 times in the year since it was sent into orbit on April 27, 2016.

The Filipino scientists who built and are now monitoring the satellite celebrated the occasion in a simple ceremony held at the Advanced Science and Technology Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-ASTI) in Diliman on Thursday, April 27.

Diwata-1 doesn't always fly over the Philippines, but it does so roughly four times a day. In all, the microsatellite has passed over the country over 1,000 times since deployment.

The celebration was also occasioned by the public unveiling of the Philippine Earth Data Resources Observation (PEDRO) Center at the ASTI. Highlighted by a large transceiver dish on the Institute's rooftop, PEDRO maintains a constant link to Diwata-1, serving as the nerve center for its operations and for downloading images and other data from the satellite.

Philippine Microsat Project Program Leader Dr. Joel Joseph Marciano, Jr. assured that Diwata-1's photos and data are free for use by government and other local partners, at least for the time being.

"In the foreseeable future, libre pa siya. We do want to keep this free," he assured.

Dr. Marciano also expressed elation at the project's success thus far and thanked the dozens of personnel behind the endeavor.

"The space program really takes a whole barangay," he said. "This has been a roller coaster ride for everybody, indeed for everybody and not just the scientific community. We're learning new things, and we're really seeing things hands-on."
The Diwata-1, its upcoming successor, the Diwata-2, and PEDRO are all part of a larger effort to bring space science to a wider audience.

"We now have an elective course on satellite technology (for college students). We're also looking at how to make these programs interdisciplinary," said Philippine Microsat Project 1 Leader Dr. Marc Caesar Talampas.

The Diwata-1 anniversary was also occasioned by the launch of a coffee table book showcasing the project's growth and achievements from conception to its first year in space. —with report from GMA News

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