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Icarus has landed

The ICARUS computer, aboard the Progress MS-07 as it docks with the Russian Service Module of the International Space Station, October 16, 2017.Professor Gil Bohrer is contributing to a global collaboration of animal scientists seeking to better understand movement and behavioral traits of animals in the wild. The International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space (ICARUS) is is a space-borne instrument, carried by the International Space Station (ISS) and designed by the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany.


The largest component of ICARUS, its antenna, was recently launched by Roscosmos and was docked to the ISS. ICARUS provides a better way to communicate with GPS tags that are monitoring animal movement.
In areas with poor cellular coverage, this allows the use of smaller tags with more frequent communications than the current satellite uplink tags.

According to the ICARUS Initiative, the namesake program will "provide a seeing-eye dog for humankind." Researchers will use the evolved senses of animals for remote sensing. Examples include:

  • Disaster forecast via animals
  • Health and disease (Avian Influenza, Foot and Mouth Disease, Ebola)
  • Ecosystem services (pollination, pest control, seed dispersal)
  • Conservation (dispersal & conservation of endangered species)
  • Global change (habitat shifts, desertification, glacial melts)
  • Discovery of unknown migrations

Gil Bohrer is part of the executive board of ICARUS, and participates in the design and development of movebank.org - the Max Planck Institute's international database of animal movement, which provides the user interface for data collected through ICARUS.