AS IT STANDS | Roman Floresca
Some two years from now, the government said it would launch a new satellite that will be named MULA, or Multispectral Unit for Land Assessment, an observation satellite that will capture operational-quality images of earth.
It will be the third such kind to be launched by the government, the first two being Diwata-1 and Diwata-2. Mula weighs 130 kilos while its smaller predecessors weigh around 50 kg.
Images of men clad in alien suits marching up and down the aisle immediately pops up in our imagination. It seems odd but that’s how we imagine things when we were young.
But we are no longer young and those days that we only imagined when we were elementary kids are gradually coming true.
Mula, for instance, is being developed by local scientists under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST). The scientists including the engineers are from the University of the Philippines and the DOST in coordination with the Philippine Space Agency (Philsa).
It is the Philsa which will complete and launch the satellite two years frm now.
The project Mula is being undertaken together with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) of Great Britain.
Mula is capable of capturing images with a swath width of 120 kilometers, compared to Diwata.
The satellite shall provide data for a wide variety of applications, including coastal mapping and monitoring; disaster damage assessment; agriculture and aquaculture monitoring; and forestry management, among others.
“With its capability to capture higher-resolution images, we will be able to better monitor terrestrial ecosystems, as well as our land and marine resources to ensure both agricultural productivity and environmental integrity,” said Gay Jane Perez, deputy director of Philsa and ASP project leader.
Engineer John Leur Labrador said Mula, once in orbit, is like having your own astronaut out there in space.
“We can think of this spacecraft as a Filipino astronaut tasked to take images of our natural resources while monitoring aircraft and ship activity in our country at the same time,” said Labrador.
Founded only in 2019, PhilSA has a concrete roadmap in its goal of “becoming a space-capable and space-faring nation in the next decade.”
“It’s inspiring to think how far we’ve come, but at the same time, moving forward is an ever-present challenge. However, I’m confident that we are headed in the right direction, spearheaded by this project and the multitude of space technology ventures we are pursuing,” Labrador said.
“These activities will bring Filipinos closer to our goal of playing a significant role in the rapidly expanding and high potential field of space technology,” he added.