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DOST, NSC ink pact for PHL’s security through satellite project

DOST officials Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña and Undersecretary Rowena Cristina L. Guevara; National Security Adviser and Director General Hermogenes Esperon Jr.; PhilSA Director General Joel Joseph Marciano Jr.; and DOST-ASTI Director Dr. Franz A. de Leon lead the signing of the memorandum of agreement for the implementation of the Synthetic Aperture Radar and Automatic Identification System for the Innovative Terrestrial Monitoring and Maritime Surveillance Project.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and National Security Council (NSC) are among the government agencies that are committed to securing the Philippine territory.

As part of their commitment, the DOST and NSC signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on May 19 to collaborate in the implementation of the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Automatic Identification System (AIS) for the Innovative Terrestrial Monitoring and Maritime Surveillance Project, the DOST said in a news release.

The Siyasat Portal, a data collection and planning system, that enables partner agencies and institutions to submit image capture requests for the NovaSAR-1 satellite.

“The DOST and NSC will take another step forward and toward a new collaboration to ensure the interest and security of our nation. From this day onward, the council and the department have officially committed to endeavor on one of our projects geared toward terrestrial and maritime monitoring, the SAR with AIS Project,” said DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña.

In his message, National Security Adviser and Director General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. expressed his gratitude to DOST for supporting the project in the last three years.

He added that part of his dreams is for the Philippine government “to establish [its] presence in the outer space, and through DOST and the Philippine Space Agency [PhilSA], we have accomplished this.”

“We had small steps, but we made our presence known. With this project, we have accelerated our interest in outer space, and we do it through the NovaSAR satellite. We can now capture image for maritime monitoring purposes including other interests in national security,” Esperon added.

The SAR with AIS Project aims to improve terrestrial and maritime monitoring capabilities of the country through the NovaSAR-1 satellite, the news release said.

The project acquired data-tasking services of the SAR satellite, allowing the country roughly 3 minutes of imaging (or a scope of 81,600 sq. km.) using the scanning SAR (ScanSAR) mode per day.

The NovaSAR-1 satellite is also equipped with an AIS, allowing for simultaneous ship detection partnered with the all-weather and day and night imaging capabilities of the SAR satellite.

The NSC has been part of the SAR with AIS Project since its outset and have been receiving data from the NovaSAR-1 steadily.

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 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, the DOST said.

This information is very useful in guarding the Philippines’ water territories against illegal vessels and in determining hidden motives of unauthorized ships, the news release added..

Also, AIS data can be used to plot trajectories of missing ships and assist in rescue operations.

The NovaSAR-1 satellite is designed and built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. in the United Kingdom, while the SAR payload is courtesy of Airbus UK, and the AIS Receiver is by Honeywell Aerospace in the US.

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.

“With the operationalization of DOST’s SAR with AIS, with the continued assistance of the [PhilSA], headed by Director General Joel Joseph Marciano Jr., and now enhanced with the engagement of the [NSC], we cannot help but look forward to another big leap toward our collective goal of strengthening our R&D infrastructures that are vital for the country’s security and territorial integrity,” said DOST-ASTI Director Dr. Franz A. de Leon.

For his part, Marciano expressed hope to find more meaningful applications of the country’s space assets in national security as well as other areas—that with and through innovative solutions using evidence-based S&T approach.

De Leon added: “The SAR with AIS project plays a big role in research and development with its complex capabilities and expertise on terrestrial monitoring and maritime surveillance for national security; and I believe that this is something the National Security Council have always valued.”

The signing of the MOA via online platform was attended by officials from the DOST headed by Secretary de la Peña, Undersecretary Rowena Cristina L. Guevara; officials from NSC headed by Esperon Jr. and Assistant Director General Ma. Victoria Castro; PhilSA’s Marciano; and DOST-ASTI’s de Leon, the DOST news release said.

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