Engineering researchers working on the development of the Diwata-2 Philippine microsatellite received the Best Paper Award in the 2017 IEEE International Conference on Communication, Networks, and Satellite (COMNETSAT) held on October 5-7, in Semarang, Indonesia.
The paper, “Development of Deployable Antennas for the Diwata-2 Microsatellite’s Amateur Radio Payload,” discusses the development of the additional Amateur Radio Unit (ARU) payload with voice repeater (FM) and wide area digital data repeater (APRS “digipeater”) capabilities. The ARU, as noted in the paper, “can be utilized as an alternative means of emergency response communications when regular infrastructure suffers damage or congestion,” especially in the Philippines which is frequented by natural disasters. This added capability of Diwata-2 is said to be an improvement on its predecessor, Diwata-1, and addresses a vital secondary communication objective or Diwata-2 that complements the optical payloads tasked with the primary earth observation mission. The inclusion of the ARU in the Diwata-2 payloads presents additional challenges in the design, testing, and eventual operation of the microsatellite. The antennas, which are stowed during launch and deployed upon release into space, play a crucial role in ensuring proper performance in the transmission and reception of signals by the ARU. The researchers were able to show close agreement between the theoretical simulations and practical measurements of the antenna tuning and radiation pattern performance during stowed and deployed positions. The paper also discusses the simulation of the launching and space environment conditions in the testing of the antenna deployment mechanism. Apart from implementing the ARU to fit with the tight requirements and constraints of Diwata-2’s electrical and mechanical subsystems, the study also aims to “promote better awareness of amateur satellites and the amateur radio community in the country as well as encourage experiments and other learning activities of schools.”
The paper is a product of collaboration among Filipino engineers in the Philippines and Japan under the DOST-funded program, “Development of the Philippines Microsatellite for Scientific Earth Observation” (PHL-Microsat). The authors are Janette Salvatus, Mary Ann Constante, Edgar Paolo Violan, PHL-Microsat researchers based in the UP Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute (UP-EEEI); Marc Caesar Talampas, an Assistant Professor in UP-EEEI; Adrian Salces and Leonard Bryan Paet, also from UP-EEEI and currently doctoral students in Kyushu Institute of Technology and Tohoku University, respectively; and Joel S. Marciano, Jr., a Professor in UP-EEEI and acting director of the Advanced Science and Technology Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-ASTI).
The Diwata-2 is the second microsatellite being developed by the PHL-Microsat program. This DOST-funded program aims to build the country’s capacity in space science and satellite technology. The program was able to develop the first microsatellite, Diwata-1, which was launched into space in April 27, 2017. The Diwata-2 is currently under extensive development and testing and is scheduled to be launched in 2018.
The IEEE COMNETSAT is an annual conference sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) that covers the theory, design and application of computer networks, communication systems and satellite technologies. According to the COMNETSAT website, the accepted technical papers will be submitted to IEEE Xplore will be normally indexed in the Scopus database.