PAGASA - The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration

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PAGASA - The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration
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The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Filipino: Pangasiwaan ng Palingkurang Atmosperiko, Heopisikal at Astronomiko ng Pilipinas, abbreviated as PAGASA, which means "hope" in Filipino) is a Philippine national institution dedicated to provide flood and typhoon warnings, public weather forecasts and advisories, meteorological, astronomical, climatological, and other specialized information and services primarily for the protection of life and property and in support of economic, productivity and sustainable development. The government agency was created on December 8, 1972 by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 78. The Presidential decree reorganized the Weather Bureau into PAGASA.

Work in Astronomy in the Philippines started in 1897. It was one of the functions of the "Observatorio Meteologico de Manila" (OMM), which became a government agency on 28 April 1884. Prior to this, it was a private undertaking that began on January 1,1865. The astronomical dome that housed the telescope of the Observatorio is its most prominent edifice. The observatory performed not only meteorological and astronomical services but also seismological and terrestrial magnetism services. Its astronomical activities were mostly limited to timekeeping and observation of solar and stellar phenomena.The OMM became the Weather Bureau in 1901 with its observatory in Manila as its central office. During the last world war, the astronomical observatory was destroyed. It was only in 1954 that a new observatory was constructed within the University of the Philippines campus in Quezon City. It has remained there up to the present time (2003), now under the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), as the only government astronomical observatory. Still performing basically the same functions as its forerunner in Manila, it has, however, updated its equipment in that disseminated time signals throughout the country, including the meteorological stations, by radio. It has also operated, beginning in 1970, an automatic picture transmission (APT) equipment, the predecessor of the modern telefacsimile or telefax equipment. The APT enabled the reception of satellite and other images over long distances. The PAGASA stopped operating the APT in 1978 because of the interference it creates with other communication network of the government. From 1954, the observatory has been quiescent, but for the construction of a planetarium in the PAGASA Science Garden in Quezon City in September 1977. And since 1969, the PAGASA has been establishing a solar radiation network that consists of 52 stations today.In 1982, the first Geostationary Meteorological Satellite (GMS) ground receiver was installed in PAGASA, which introduced the agency to space technology. This equipment provided the agency with large-scale images of the atmosphere over the data-sparse western Pacific ocean and contributed to the significant improvement of its weather forecasting capability. The facility was upgraded in 1988 to enable it to receive the high-resolution images being generated by the Japanese satellite. In 1991, the ground receiver for the polar-orbiting satellite of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States was installed to complement the existing facility. From 1992 to 1993, additional satellite ground receivers were installed at the PAGASA stations in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Cagayan de Oro City and Mactan, Cebu.At present, there are three institutions which undertake activities in astronomy in the Philippines. These are the PAGASA, the Manila Observatory and the National Museum (NM). The former evolved from the OMM while the second is a private institution under the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City. The NM is also a government agency, which is under the supervision of the Department of Education, Culture and Sports and is located at the Rizal Park in Luneta. The PAGASA engages in the promotion of astronomy, including space science in the Philippines through shows in its Planetarium and the publication of posters. It coordinates and collaborates with other agencies or institutions in this field, such as the organization of astronomical societies in the colleges or universities. It should be stressed, however, that there is only one educational institution that offers a course related to space science in the country. No college or university gives a full course in astronomy in the Philippines.In the olden past, astronomy was regarded as a pastime, until it became the foundation of modern physics and mathematics. Through observations of the motions of the earth with respect to the sun, stars and other celestial bodies, it was shown that the earth is round and is not the center of the universe. Thus, astronomy became a science. Today, there are tremendous benefits being derived from astronomy and space science. Developed nations have reaped the rewards of these fields, as some developing countries are beginning or have began to do. Satellites and powerful computers, which are products of the application of astronomy and space science have become common factors in a host of activities such as communications, data and information exchange, remote sensing for environmental monitoring, disaster preparedness and prevention, and resources assessment.The Philippines would do well to follow the example of the countries that have benefited from the utilization of astronomy and space science. It is endowed with rich natural resources, which include a relatively highly literate human resource. In addition, the present staff in astronomy is imbued with enthusiasm to promote astronomy among the population, aware of the fact that it is the mother of modern sciences such as mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology and it will contribute to the upgrading of knowledge in science and technology. However, it has to enhance the knowledge and skill of the human resources engaged in the two sciences and to improve its facilities, especially its instruments and equipment. It has to provide better opportunities to its astronomical staff so that they will produce more and perform more efficiently and effectively. The potential workers in astronomy are many compared to the present staff of the PAGASA, thanks to the organization of astronomical societies in the universities and colleges. This human resource has to be encouraged to pursue a career in science through attractive salaries, benefits and other opportunities for growth.The PAGASA has been afforded by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs several opportunities to know and keep abreast of the latest developments in astronomy and space science through its participation in international workshops and congresses. The agency has made and partially implemented plans for the modest improvement of its facilities with its scarce financial and human resources. It needs more of these resources to make a big stride in astronomy and space science.The Philippines has embarked to be in the status of a newly industrializing country in 2000. The present national leadership is now aware that one of the imperatives to attain this goal is to give a higher priority in fostering the development and application of science and technology in the country. The future, indeed, looks brighter for astronomy and space science in the Philippines.

Time Service
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) is mandated by law, as the government agency which is tasked to keep and disseminate the Philippine Standard Time (PST). Section 6 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 8, defining the metric system in the country, states that: "PAGASA shall be responsible in the establishment, maintenance and operation of the National Standard for the second of time". Another law is Presidential Decree 1149, assigning PAGASA as the official agency that will handle the dissemination of the Philippine Standard Time (PST). One of PAGASA's eight (8) major units, the Atmospheric, Geophysical and Space Sciences Branch (AGSSB) operates and maintains a timing system thru its Time Service Unit (TSU).
History of Time Service
The Time Service Division was established as one of the major units in the then Weather Bureau sometime in 1949. Its master clock was a U. Nardin Marine Chronometer, with pendulum regulator, which was utilized as a dispatch clock. A short synchrome ensemble replaced the marine chronometer in 1951 and a quartz crystal clock improved the system in 1965. Since then, there was no major improvement that had been done with the system, except for the acquisition of a Digitizing Oscilloscope. In 1988, the Time Service Division was downgraded to the Time Service Unit (TSU), together with the reorganization of the PAGASA. In 1996, the TSU acquired a Luminous Digital Clock and a Global Positioning System (GPS), which were installed in 1997, as its primary reference timing system. In 2003, TSU was transferred to the newly renovated Transit Building of the PAGASA Astronomical Observatory, equipped with the new timing equipment, known as the Rubidium/Global Positioning System Common View (Rb/GPSCV) Time Transfer System. The detailed characteristics, components and utilization of the Rb/GPSCV are given in a succeeding section.
Functions of the Time Service Unit
1. Maintains the national standard of time and frequency. 2. Disseminates the precise time and frequency via Internet, radio broadcast and other means. 3. Extends time and frequency calibration and standardization services to industrial and scientific institutions. 4.Exchanges data on time and frequency with overseas institutions.

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