ISS tracks animal migration


In 2018, scientists launched an antenna into space dedicated solely to tracking the world’s animals. From its perch 240 miles above Earth on the International Space Station, the antenna receives signals from tiny transmitters attached to more than 800 species of animal ranging from elephants to bats.

The project is called ICARUS (International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space) and it will be expanded in coming years to a network of satellites capable of tracking hundreds of thousands of animals in real time.

Apart from mapping the locations of its legions of animal collaborators, the transmitters also record information on the creature’s physiology and surrounding environment. It will also help ecologists to discover new migration paths, habitat requirements, species behaviour, etc.

Though all the world’s insects, 70 percent of its birds and 65 percent of its mammals are too small to be fitted with existing tracking technology, researchers working on ICARUS have created transmitters that weigh just five grams, and in the next five years, they expect to shrink the trackers enough to attach them to insects such as locusts.