Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pinoy astronomers cite benefits of space program, call for creation of PSA

By Dino Balabo

MALOLOS CITY—Filipino astronomers called for the creation of the Philippine Space Agency (PSA) citing the benefits of space science that will usher in further development in the country.

The call came during the launch of the initiative for the creation of PSA in Quezon City on Friday where copies of a House Bill submitted to Congress by Agham party-list Rep. Angelo Palmones were handed to journalists.

Dr. Jose Edgardo Aban of the University of Brunei Darussalam said that creation of the PSA will lead to development of technologies that will help the country address the effects of climate change and disasters.

As former head of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Committee on Space Technology Applications, Aban said through the PSA, the country can have its own satellites that can be used in mapping the entire archipelago.

He said that satellite-based images can also be used in addressing post-disaster situations in the country along with proper identification of the country’s territorial boundaries to avoid international disputes.

“It has been a long time dream for Filipino astronomers and space scientists to someday have a single agency on the country, just like NASA that will navigate the country’s space science research and development that will spur development of applications that can generate wealth to the nation,” said Aban.

He said that other countries in Southeast Asia had long embarked on their own space program, and the Philippines is lagging behind.

As one of the leading proponents of the PSA while he was with DOST, Aban said that they first introduced it in 2006 after a study conducted a year before.

He said that at the same time, other countries in South East Asia were also gearing up for their own space program.

“They move forward while our space program remains a proposal,” Aban said.

This was affirmed by Dr. Custer Deocaris of the Rizal Technological University (RTU) who said that “we are now behind Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.”

Deocaris said that these Southeast Asian countries will soon benefit from their space program.

“We should not forget that most of today’s modern conveniences like cellular phones, internet, cloud computing, LEDs and solar panels are spin offs from investments in space technology,” Deocaris said.

He added, “Countries that have some control on those technologies are able to develop even faster as they break the vicious cycle of technological parasitism and are able to compete in the global market.”

Deocaris added that patriotic impacts of a Philippine space program would be immeasurable.

He cited the impact of the US space program when it sent men to the moon in July 1969.

This is also true for Filipinos who are currently rooting for boxing champion Manny Pacquiao.

According to Deocaris, Filipinos are always proud of themselves and are willing to relate with fellow Filipinos who are successful.

He cited that after Miss Gloria Diaz won the Miss Universe title in 1969, it created a “pageant culture” in the country.

“Pati noong makasama sa Miss Saigon si Lea Salonga, marami din ang nahilig kumanta,” he said.

Deocaris said that there are other Filipino scientists abroad who already pledged to help develop the PSA.