Germany and Russia will implement a global system for animal observation on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2015

Published by Max Planck Institute on Fri, 01/24/2014 - 14:14

Press release by the MPIO Radolfzell and DLR, German Aerospace Centre December 2013

Within the National Space program of the ISS (International Space Station) and manned space flight the DLR German Aerospace Agency is funding the development of satellite-based digital telemetry for animal observation, the ICARUS Space Project (International Cooperation of Animal Research Using Space).

The Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (MPIO), department for animal migration, headed by Prof. Dr. Martin Wikelski who is also chair holder at the University of Konstanz, has been granted financial funding for the coming years for the development of related technology. The MPIO decided to choose SpaceTech GmbH, Immendstaad, Bodensee, as the main contractor and technical project manager, because this SME has a high level of competence in the field of space technology.

The major project commenced in March 2012 with a feasibility study and has been in the implementation phase since January 2013. The prerequisite for successful continuation of the project was the ratification of the bilateral agreements between the Russian Space Agency, ROSCOSMOS, and the German Space Agency, DLR. This agreement ensures that the financial assistance from Russia matches the German funds for ICARUS.

The Max Planck Society decided to fund, parallel to the grants from the DLR, the miniaturization of the ICARUS tag.

ICARUS is a global experimental animal observation system. This project was evaluated in 2009 by the European Science Foundation in the ELIPS program of European Space Agency as scientifically excellent and in March 2012 it was supported by the DLR Space Management as a national program. The support through public funding is a significant step to an independent ICARUS Satellite constellation in LEO (Low Earth Orbit) which enables us to create a global comprehensive and long-term observation of animals of all sizes from outer space.

The ICARUS experimental system will be installed on the Russian MLM (Multipurpose Laboratory Module) of the International Space station (ISS) – presumably end of 2015. Revolutionary scientific knowledge about life, behaviour, vital functions and death of the animals on our planet is expected through the data generated by ICARUS. The globally collected data allow among other things conclusions on the spread of disease (zoonosis), findings on climate change and disaster forecast. The scientific knowledge acquired will undoubtedly be of invaluable importance for mankind and finally for our life on earth.