January 28, 2021

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The Philippines Signs Agreement for Access to NovaSAR-1 Satellite Data

NovaSAR-1 Satellite Data

The Advanced Science and Technology Institute (ASTI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has signed an agreement with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) for the Philippines’ share of the data tasking and acquisition services of NovaSAR-1.

The NovaSAR-1 is an innovative small S-Band radar satellite launched into a 580km sun-synchronous orbit in September 2018.

About the Initiative

As reported, the DOST-ASTI will be acting as the lead agency on behalf of the Philippine government.

It will undertake the engagement through the “Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Automatic Identification System (AIS) for Innovative Terrestrial Monitoring and Maritime Surveillance (SAR with AIS)” project.

The NovaSAR-1 satellite has multiple features conducive to the atmospheric and climatic conditions of the Philippines.

Its SAR capability enables it to acquire earth observation data through cloud cover and detect marine structures such as marine vessels and aquaculture systems.

The AIS Receiver allows the satellite to collect ship information across the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The Director of Earth Observation at SSTL is delighted to welcome DOST-ASTI colleagues to the NovaSAR-1 data team.

Benefits to be Gained

The Philippines will greatly benefit from NovaSAR-1 data particularly because the country has a tropical climate with frequent cloud cover, an extensive coastline and maritime territory.

The agreement will allow the Philippines to access the NovaSAR-1 satellite until the lifespan of the spacecraft.

NovaSAR-1 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.

Access to the SAR imaging capability of NovaSAR-1 is a timely and powerful resource for the country as there is a continued push for scientific data and computing in support of evidence-based policies and decision-making.

For one, NovaSAR-1’s simultaneous acquisition of SAR and Automatic Identification System (AIS) data targets enhanced maritime domain awareness that is expected to lead to more effective interventions.

Who are Involved?

The SAR with AIS project is being implemented by the DOST in response to coordinated inputs from various local stakeholders, including government agencies in the Philippines.

These agencies are:

  1. The National Coast Watch System (NCWS)
  2. The National Security Council (NSC)
  3. The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)
  4. Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR)
  5. The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA)

The DOST-ASTI will serve as a hub for the SAR with AIS project activities in the country.

In particular, data from the NovaSAR-1 satellite will be received through the Philippine Earth Data Resource and Observation (PEDRO) Center.

The secure storage and archiving of the data, meanwhile, will be housed in the Computing and Archiving Research Environment (CoARE).

The data processing and analysis will be spearheaded by the researchers from the PEDRO Center and the Remote Sensing and Data Science (DATOS) Help Desk, which will utilise the High Performance Computing (HPC) resources available at the CoARE.

The Department will also undertake knowledge transfer and training on the utilisation of the data for partners in government agencies and academia in the Philippines.

This project is another initiative that exemplifies the increasing relevance and usefulness of space technology in the Philippines.

The Philippines’ DOST-ASTI joins the following other mission partners already under contract for NovaSAR-1 data: the UK Space Agency, Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

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