PH’s first microsatellite returns to Earth, ends mission after exceeding life span

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 06 2020 09:50 PM

PH’s first microsatellite returns to Earth, ends mission after exceeding life span 1

MANILA — After exceeding all expectations and lasting 4 years in space, the Philippines’ first microsatellite Diwata-1 is finally returning to Earth, the government said Monday.

The Department of Science and Technology’s Sustained Support for Local Space Technology and Applications Mastery, Innovation and Advancement (STAMINA4Space) program announced that the Filipino-made microsatellite is nearing the Earth’s atmosphere and will likely lose contact soon.

“We confirm that today, 6 April 2020 at 04:49 a.m. Philippine Standard Time (PST), Diwata-1 was at an altitude of approximately 114 km based on telemetry data received from the satellite," STAMINA4Space posted on its Facebook page.

"This altitude is very close to the Karman line, or the widely accepted boundary between outer space and the Earth’s atmosphere. It is expected that beyond this altitude, the chances of successfully establishing contact with Diwata-1 are extremely low."

“This, therefore, marks the official end of the mission lifetime of Diwata-1."

DIwata-1, which was made by Filipino engineers through a satellite program in Japan, was meant to only last for 18 months in space.

It was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on March 23, 2016 and released into orbit on April 27, 2016.

The microsatellite has been described to be just as big as a balikbayan box and weighed around 50 kilograms.

“Welcome back, home! You will always be remembered for opening the horizons of space to the Philippines,” STAMINA4Space said of Diwata-1.

“You have, in many ways, exceeded our expectations in your four years of service. We shall build upon your legacy as we continue to explore new frontiers and forge ahead with the future of the Philippine space program.”

 

Since its launch, the satellite has captured more than 17,000 images of the Philippines, and a total of 45,572 images as of February 2, 2020.

Satellite images are helpful in environmental, weather and resource monitoring.

As of December 2019, almost 1,000 users benefited from the data of Diwata-1 and Diwata-2. This includes data for scientific research and education, environment assessment, disaster monitoring, agriculture, climate, infrastructure and water resources.

Diwata-1 also paved the way for other microsatellite projects, including the cube satellite Maya-1.

As of late last year, the Philippines has 13 microsatellites in space and in the pipeline.