Congratulations–DOST-ASTI, UP-Diliman and the team who worked on Diwata-1

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Holy Week is, of course, always naturally quieter than any other part of the year. That people were consumed by their travel preparations and even actually already en route to their holiday destinations or immersed in their prayers and even self-exiled in retreat houses partly accounts for the launching last Wednesday, March 23, of DIWATA-1, our country’s first microsatellite, not getting all the hurrays and booming celebrations the event deserves.

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But that the DIWATA-1 launch was not as heralded as the latest hairdo of the most sparkling TV star is also because we Filipinos are dumbly indifferent to the truly good things that we should be proud and should encourage.

We wish to acknowledge here the good PR job in the United States that Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia and his people did to make this triumph well-known among Americans and the Filipino communities in North America and will use the statement he made on the occasion of the DIWATA-1 launching to summarize our own sentiments about that really great event.

He called the launch of DIWATA-1 from Cape Canaveral in Florida a historic and proud milestone for Philippine science and technology.

DIWATA-1 forms part of the payload of Orbital ATK Commercial Resupply Services Flight 6 (OA-6), and is housed in the Japanese Experiment Module, nicknamed ‘Kibo,’ at the International Space Station.

The launch of Diwata-1 “is the culmination of a research program of the Philippine Department of Science and Technology (DOST) begun in 2014 to develop the necessary local expertise in space technology and allied fields in science and engineering. The PhilMicrosat Program is being implemented by several departments in the University of the Philippines-Diliman and DOST’s Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI).”

“Assembled by nine young Filipino engineers stationed in partners Tohoku and Hokkaido Universities, Diwata-1 carries four specialized cameras for various purposes, including capabilities in imaging weather patterns, agricultural productivity and high resolution imaging of the country’s land and water resources. The satellite is expected to be in orbit for approximately 20 months and will be imaging the Philippines twice daily. Images from Diwata-1 will be received in a Subic facility, and later on also in the UP Diliman Microsatellite Research and Instructional Facility that is currently under construction.”

Ambassador Cuisia also said “the launch of Diwata-1 is not only a giant leap for Philippine science and technology. It could also provide Philippine policy makers with the scientific data and information needed to formulate policies relating to disaster mitigation, agricultural productivity and management of land and water resources.”

While Diwata-1 is still in orbit, its sister satellite Diwata-2 is being prepared for launching in the later part of 2017 or in early 2018.

The Diwata project is a flagship of the DOST which precisely went into it not only to give a name to the Philippines as an achiever in space technology, but to use the Diwatas to give a shot in the arm to Philippine agriculture, food security, and even tourism.

Data gathered will provide important and vital information to farmers on what crops, when to plant them, and how prepare in advance for threats like El Niño, DOST Sec. Mario Montejo has said. Even weather forecasting by Paga-asa will vastly become more accurate.

Congratulations, DOST-ASTI, UP-Diliman and the team who worked on Diwata-1 and are working on Diwata-2.

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