The ICARUS antenna (right) on the exterior of the International Space Station. Photo Credit: ESA / NASA / AstroSerena

Technology USA14. June 2020

Scientists Track Animals from Space to Help Protect Them

Scientists have recently launched an animal-tracking antenna into space to monitor over 800 species of animals around the world tagged with tiny transmitters – and researchers expect to receive data from the system as early as this autumn.

The solar-powered tags will be lighter and significantly cheaper than existing technology, can be reused and their durability can last an animal’s lifetime.

“The sensors allow animals to be our eyes and ears and noses in the world, and we are linking it all together,” says Martin Wikelski, who is working on the project called ICARUS (International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space), to Inside Science.

“It’s a new era of discovery,” adds Walter Jetz, also working on ICARUS, to the Times. “We will discover new migration paths, habitat requirements, things about species behavior that we didn’t even think about. That discovery will bring about all sorts of new questions.” ICARUS can track the locations of the animals, record information on their physiology and environments, and monitor movements that could benefit humans by potentially offering an early warning sign to incoming disasters or outbreaks. The massive tracking network also allows for better conservation, providing and outlook on where wildlife needs protection. The system’s data will be publicly accessible online, in addition to an app called Animal Tracker that allows users to note observations on a tagged animal.


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