Filipino researchers dominate space exploration by winning first prize in the Sixth Space Mission Idea Contest (MIC6), besting research topics from different countries during the Seventh University Space Engineering Consortium-Global (Unisec-Global) Meeting in Japan.
The researchers, from the Department of Science and Technology-Advanced Science and Technology Institute, and University of the Philippines Diliman, won first place in the IVA-replaceable Small Exposed Experiment Platform category for their entry “Spectrum Monitoring from Space with i-SEEP [SMoSiS]—Capturing and Mapping the Digital Divide from Space through Radio Frequency Spectrum Measurements.”
The MIC is an avenue for people interested in space research to introduce creative ideas on payloads for the International Space Station platform. It also introduces new possibilities on space exploration research and technologies.
One of the researchers, Dr. Joel Joseph S. Marciano Jr., the newly conferred director general of the Philippine Space Agency, said they were going to pursue the research whether they win or not, but their victory was a pleasant surprise and an added bonus for the whole team.
“Our expectation was ‘let’s just have fun explaining this idea to a big audience’ that this is not your typical science experiment. It’s an experiment for public good, illuminating the state of this infrastructure and connectivity in sharing it openly,” he added.
Placing first in the MIC6 served as one of the highlights for the country since this was the first-time Filipinos brought home the top prize in this contest. The authors of the research, besides Marciano, are Mar de Guzman, Calvin Artemis Hilario and Genedyn Mendoza.
When asked about the projected uses of mapped data from radio frequency measurements, Marciano said, “It’s really putting this kind of information in people’s hands. We don’t have all the possible uses of the data. They might correlate it with something. But for us we want to correlate it with night lights, economic activity, household income… where are the unserved and underserved populations.”
“Monitoring from Space with i-SEEP [SMoSiS] aims to provide measurements of radio frequency spectrum occupancy on Earth to detect the presence, or lack of, telecommunication and broadcast services.
The processed SMoSiS spectrum data will help determine unserved and “underserved” areas, detection of anomalies, including the disruption and subsequent recovery of wireless technology services during disasters.
SMoSiS also studies the utilization of the radio spectrum toward better planning, management and regulation of this vital resource in support of fulfilling Sustainable Development Goal 10 on reduced inequalities.
The team intends for SMoSiS to be the first step to having an “osmosis” of opportunities in the underprivileged sector.
The international recognition of the Philippines’s achievement in a space mission-related contest serves as an opportunity to become more engaged in showcasing the abilities and potentials the country has in space technology.