Monday 15 July 2019

Global animal tracking system Icarus is switched on

JULY 8, 2019

The German-Russian observation system for animal movements, Icarus, will go into operation on 10 July 2019. In the subsequent test phase, the Icarus engineers and scientists will check the system components on the ground, on board the International Space Station (ISS) and the transmitters that collect the animals' data. After completion of all tests, Icarus is expected to be available to the scientific community in autumn or winter 2019.
Icarus is a cooperative project between the Russian space agency Roskosmos, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and the University of Konstanz under the leadership of Martin Wikelski from the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior in Constance. With the space-based observation system, scientists want to find out more about the life of animals on Earth: on which routes they migrate, under what conditions they live and, above all, how they can best be protected.
The researchers equip different animal species with miniature transmitters that send their measurement data to a receiving station in space. The data is transmitted to a ground station, from where it is sent to the respective research teams. The results are published in the Movebank database, which is freely accessible to everyone, and in a counterpart developed by RKK Energia and the Institute of Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences (IG-RAS). The Icarus equipment supports the Russian space research project Uragan (hurricane), which was developed to adapt Earth observation hardware and methods and to observe potentially dangerous phenomena. Uragan instruments are used to simultaneously observe the Earth's surface to understand the migrations of animals and the reasons for their changes.
Activation of on-board computer
On 10 July 2019, the Russian ground control centre will activate the Icarus antenna and the on-board computer on the ISS. The on-board computer is already on the space station, the antenna was mounted by Russian cosmonauts on the outside of the "Zvezda" module. At the same time, a SpaceTech test ground station in Immenstaad will start operation.

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