The Covenant of Love and the first 100% Brazilian satellite
On February 28 the first 100% Brazilian satellite will be launched into space. The "Amazonia-1" was developed in Brazil by the National Institute for Space Research (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, INPE) and it was completely designed, constructed, tested, and operated by Brazil to observe planet Earth. Its main purpose is to observe and monitor deforestation, especially among the Amazon region. After many hard working years and hundreds of people involved, this satellite will be launched from the base at Sriharikota, India
By Karen Bueno
February 28th, 2021
The Brazilian team that is finalizing the project has been working in India on the final details for the launching since December. Among them is Marcelo Petry, member of the Schoenstatt Family League in Atibaia, Brazil. He is a physicist who works at INPE. He is married to Mayra Montoya Petry and is currently preparing to seal his Covenant of Love with the Blessed Mother.
What follows is an interview directly from India in which he tells us how the development of this satellite is also helping him to prepare for his consecration through the Covenant of Love and what we can expect from this new technology for Brazil.
What is your job? What exactly do you do?
I work at INPE and my job is to deal with the thermal controls for the satellites. To put it simply, you could say that my job is to maintain the temperature of the equipment that is part of the satellite within the specified temperature range, neither too hot nor too cold.
What part do you play in the Amazonia-1 project?
I am part of the thermal control subsystem where we have a first segment that deals with the computational analysis and architecture of the thermal project, and a second segment which deals with the physical development and implementation of the proposed solution. I am responsible for the team that works with that second segment. It is in charge of developing and manufacturing the MLI (a kind of spatial blanket) which covers the satellite. We also apply other thermal control devices such as ribbons, dyes, heaters, heat diffusers, among others.
How long have you been working on this program and what stage is it presently in?
We have been working on this project for six years and we are now preparing for the launch which is scheduled for February 28 at the SHAR launching base in Sriharikota, India.
Is there something you have learned through the Schoenstatt Movement that has helped you in your job?
Yes, it can be summarized in “Nothing without you, nothing without us.” This is the teaching that I carry with me in my everyday life. It always reminds me that I am responsible for my actions, but that I must guide those actions according to Christian principles. When the Russians and then the Americans launched the first spaceflights, Fr. Kentenich compared the conquest of space to the Covenant of Love. “It is true that through the Covenant of Love we are launched into space. We have entered the spaceship which is Mary’s heart” , he said.
You are actually preparing to seal your Covenant of Love as a member of the Family League. Why do you think Father Kentenich makes this comparison? Can you see the Covenant as that shuttle which takes you to space?
When they are launched into space, astronauts are no longer walking on Earth, they are floating in space. The Covenant of Love separates us from an excessively materialistic life, which often might cause the same feelings of lack of attachment. With astronauts this requirement is met by attaching themselves to a spacesuit or a larger spacecraft, thus assuring his survival. To a Schoenstatter, the spacecraft is our MTA’s heart. Just like a spacecraft, Mary’s heart protects us during our flight, but we are responsible for the navigation.
In Schoenstatt we claim that the inner world and the outer world -microcosm and macrocosm- should develop in harmony. The technological advances must go hand in hand with the spiritual advances. Is there anything in the development of “Amazonia-1” that has helped you in this process of inner growth?
Due to the amount of effort required to build a satellite, the process itself ends up influencing the way in which we relate to our surroundings. Just as we face numerous difficulties, there are multiple opportunities to practice our resilience, self-control and even empathy for others. It is often necessary to persevere for a long time in order to achieve the desired objective, without short cuts or detours during the journey, which makes it exhausting for those involved. When this happens, we must remember that there is a common goal and that we must overcome the barriers along the way, no matter what they are, because, if we don’t, we will all fail.
Why has this satellite been developed? What is its purpose? What benefits will it bring for Brazil?
The Amazonia-1 is a satellite that allows the photographic registry of the planet’s surface, normally classified as a tele-detection or remote sensing satellite. It was designed to observe and monitor the deforestation in the Amazon region. To fulfill this task, the Amazonia-1 takes pictures of an area in the forest, stores the images on its onboard computer and, as soon as it makes contact with one of its receiving antennas installed in the INPE units, sends the images so that the researchers can process them digitally and generate data on the forest’s deforestation. Images can also be generated to control forest fires, monitor urban growth, agricultural areas and water resources, among other things.
As for the benefits, we can approach them in two ways: a direct way and a cross-sectional way. The direct benefits are tied to the operation of Amazonia-1 per se, which consists in obtaining images that reinforce the availability and frequency of the information so that researchers may generate data that, in turn, can be used by agencies like the IBAMA (Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis). As for the cross-sectional benefits, they can be identified as the validation of the multi-mission platform (PMM), which, if we make an analogy with a truck, would be the engine part; and the satellite payload module would be the semi-trailer, which is where the equipment that performs the satellite’s mission is located. Something else to take into consideration is the creation of skilled jobs in the national industry as well as the increase in the techno-scientific capacity of the involved institutes, which allows the possibility of targeting more complex projects that correspond to society’s needs.
The satellite will be launched by mission PSLV-C51 of the ISRO at 10:24 local time in India. The information and up to date photos can be found on the Engenharia Espacial INPE: Missão Amazônia-, Facebook page.
 Father Joseph Kentenich. On Monday Evenings, vol.21
Translation: Maribel Acaron