By Dhel Nazario
Filipino researchers won first place in the recent Space Mission Idea Contest (MIC6) at the 7th University Space Engineering Consortium-Global (UNISEC-Global) Meeting in Japan, besting research topics from different countries on their first try.
Under the IVA-replaceable Small Exposed Experiment Platform (iSEEP) category, the researchers from Department of Science and Technology – Advanced Science and Technology Institute (DOST-ASTI) and University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) won first place for their entry Spectrum Monitoring from Space with i-SEEP (SMoSiS) – Capturing and Mapping the Digital Divide from Space through Radio Frequency Spectrum Measurements.”
SMoSiS aims to provide measurements of occupancy on earth to detect presence or lack of telecommunication and broadcast services. The processed SMoSiS spectrum data will help determine unserved and “under-served” areas, detection of anomalies, including the disruption and subsequent recovery of wireless technology services during disasters.
One of the researchers Dr. Joel Joseph S. Marciano, Jr., the newly conferred Director-General of the Philippine Space Agency, said that 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 is the first time the Philippines participated in the said event. The authors of the research are Mar De Guzman, Calvin Artemies Hilario, Dr. Joel Joseph Marciano, Jr., and Genedyn Mendoza.
“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,” said Dr. Marciano, when asked about the projected uses of mapped data from radio frequency measurements
The MIC is an avenue for people interested in space research to introduce creative ideas on payloads for the International Space Station (ISS) platform. It also introduces new possibilities on space exploration research and technologies.