, JANUARY 8, 2007
  (STAR) By Helen Flores - A retiring government scientist dreams of creating the Philippines’ first aeronautics and space agency that would bring much progress to Filipinos through science and technology.

Space science chief Bernardo Soriano of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said the proposed Philippine Aeronautics and Space Administration (PASA) would be similar to the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the acknowledged world leader in aeronautics and space exploration.

"PASA will be like US’ NASA. It will lead us to rapid progress in S&T and thus economic prosperity like the developed nations," he told The STAR.

NASA, which is based in Washington, leads in pioneering the future in space exploration, scientific discovery, and aeronautics research. US President Dwight Eisenhower established NASA in 1958, partially in response to the Soviet Union’s launch of the first artificial satellite.

He said by undertaking a space program, Filipinos’ knowledge in many fields like physics, chemistry and electronics would be enhanced.

"Given the right support from the government, Filipino scientists will stand out from the rest of the world," he said.

The 64-year-old Soriano, who will be retiring in May 2008, said a partnership between the government and private sector is needed to create PASA as it would cost billions of pesos in investments.

He said a group of Filipino amateur astronomers founded in 2003 the Astronomical League of the Philippines Inc. (ALP) which aims "to cater (to) the needs of dedicated amateur astronomers whose main objective was to concentrate more on the practical side of amateur astronomy such as observational and imaging techniques."

Last year, a Filipino astronomer Christopher Go of Cebu discovered the Red Spot Junior on the planet Jupiter.

Go, a 1991 Physics graduate of the University of San Carlos and an avid observer of Jupiter, discovered that the brown spot on the planet, which was previously white in color, had turned brick red.

Reports said that Go’s observation, which was reported to the Jupiter Section of the Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers, has sparked renewed interest in the planet.

Soriano said Filipinos showing much interest in space exploration, was a sign that the country could also have its own organization that would support local astronomers in achieving their dreams of finding what lies beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.

Soriano has served Pagasa for 43 years, where he started as a communication officer. He is an Electronics Engineer graduate of the Far Eastern Aeronautics School (FEATI University).

Asked what was his greatest contribution to the agency, Soriano said he is proud of having a direct hand in its capacity building by writing its scholarship program and chairing its personnel development committee from 1989 to 2003.

"The best thing that happened to me in Pagasa is the realization that I contributed in improving its capacity which is now evident in its products and services. Best experience is exceeding all my dreams," he said

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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