ICARUS – A New Global Tracking Service for Small Objects

Dr Walter Naumann

On planet Earth, the well-being of humans is directly connected to the existence of animals, be it as a source of food, the origin and carrier of diseases, or as an early-warning system for human impacts on nature. Billions of animals could be our sensors – our eyes, ears, and noses for the health of our planet, but no tracking system for small animals exists. ICARUS will close this gap by monitoring the local, regional, and global movement of tagged wild animals. The main challenge of ICARUS involves a two-way communication link between tags attached to animals and the payload at the ISS. A tag weighing less than five grams is under development that measures its absolute GNSS position at regular intervals, thus tracking the animal with high accuracy. During contact with the ISS, the tag transmits the recorded data to the ICARUS User Centre. ICARUS is primarily geared towards scientific groups that are carrying out basic and application-oriented research with migrating animals. It also provides services for national and international authorities and organisations, such as in the fields of environmental protection and disease control.