back to article Boffins ready to go live with system that will track creatures great and small from space

Boffins at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology are finally ready to switch on Icarus – a system that will track the migration of animals by using an antenna installed at the International Space Station (ISS). On the ground, scientists have been equipping hundreds of animals with miniature satellite transmitters. On …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Fascist Police State in the UK sees opportunities for Citizen monitoring"

    We're already tracking their phones, their internet usage, we've got CCTV on every lamppost, an Amazon/Google snooping device in every home... now we finally get the tech to fit them all with a tracker embedded in their ID card.

    1. macjules Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: "Fascist Police State in the UK sees opportunities for Citizen monitoring"

      Giraffes have got mobile phones and are using them for internet usage?

      Sounds like a tall story to me.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: "Fascist Police State in the UK sees opportunities for Citizen monitoring"

        Well spotted.

        1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: "Fascist Police State in the UK sees opportunities for Citizen monitoring"

          No, that's leopards, or possibly ocelots.

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: "Fascist Police State in the UK sees opportunities for Citizen monitoring"

            Giraffes have spots too.

            1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: "Fascist Police State in the UK sees opportunities for Citizen monitoring"

              Depends on the speicies, but I'd call them patches, polygons or irregular shapes.

              I'll grant you that some have rounded corners. Call Apple immediately!

  2. Chairo

    Obligatory xkcd

    https://xkcd.com/1338/

  3. TRT Silver badge

    "...the outdated Argos system..."

    That's the one where you had to go through a printed catalogue to find your species of interest and then you picked up your data at collection point B, yes?

    1. ArgosSatelliteSystem

      Re: "...the outdated Argos system..."

      Probably ... was the only satellite system used solely for environmental research for decades dating 30+ years.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: "...the outdated Argos system..."

        I was going to downvote you for missing the joke, but then I saw your username and realised that I was being harsh. Satellites don't have a sense of humour.

        1. ArgosSatelliteSystem

          Re: "...the outdated Argos system..."

          I do wonder how biologists requested IDs before fax, email, etc. And no, satellites and robots were not yet programmed with emotions...that's coming though, don't worry.

  4. Andy Tunnah

    Keep an eye on facebook

    When the inevitable crossing of PETA and eejits who think radio waves cause cancer happens, it's gonna be something crazy.

    1. RyokuMas Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Keep an eye on facebook

      Isn't that how we ended up with vegans?

  5. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
    Alien

    Yet Another Documentary & Cautionary Tail (Possibly Prehensile)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghost_Light_(Doctor_Who)

  6. Chris G Silver badge

    Beware

    Can this system track guard leopards in basements?

    It would be useful to know.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Beware

      Of course it can. But to activate that functionality you have to fill in the form located in the filing cabinet behind door marked beware of the ...

  7. vtcodger Silver badge

    Impressive

    Solar cell, battery(?), transmitter, gps antenna, and, of course electronics all in a 5g (about 1/6 oz) package. That's pretty impressive.

    I'm sure these folks know exactly what they are doing, but with the ISS being in a fairly low orbit (400km, 51 degree inclination), I think they are probably only going to get two relatively short passes (a few minutes) a day over their targets.

    BTW, who gets to install the tracking devices on the bears and leopards?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: "who gets to install the tracking devices on the bears and leopards?"

      The post-grad students. Survival of the fittest, isn't it?

    2. ArgosSatelliteSystem

      Re: Impressive

      Our 2g tags are solar powered rechargeable battery with GPS receivers, temp sensors, etc. 2g is the SMALLEST satellite transmitter and it's not on ICARUS...it's on...the so called "outdated" system ;)

      It is impressive what ICARUS has done, but it's nothing new and certainly not revolutionary by any means.

      ISS gets upwards of four passes a day, and there are currently seven Argos equipped satellites in orbit. In 2022 there will be 25 Argos nano-satellites in orbit compared to a single ISS which as I understand will be out of commission in 2024 (?).

      Biologists with permits are the lucky ones that get to put the tags on animals : ) ...sometimes veterinarians depending on the application.

  8. choleric
    Childcatcher

    The person who chose that name should be waxed and feathered

    Do these "boffins" not know how the Icarus story ends? And still they chose to attach this system to the the ISS? Colour me gobsmacked.

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: The person who chose that name should be waxed and feathered

      As long as they don't use wax to attach it they should be alright.

  9. Paul Herber Silver badge

    I'd want to use this to find out where our cat goes at 2am for a couple of hours!

    <where is the cat icon?>

    1. cookieMonster

      Based on experience of other people's cats..

      It's probably shitting in one of your neighbor's gardens

      1. Paul Herber Silver badge

        Re: Based on experience of other people's cats..

        No. Shits in our own garden, twice per day. Well trained, our cat.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge
      Holmes

      > where our cat goes

      I've seen cat GPS tracking data and they are impressive. To make it short, they actually cover a surprising amount of distance, and all in all it's better you don't know all too well where they've exactly been, it would be very detrimental to your sleep...

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        The BBC tried it with 50 cats in a village (link), and they found that it varied. Some cats barely leave their own garden, others roam for miles.

        Of course, you might find that your cat is sneaking off to someone else's house for a second dinner, greedy sod.

  10. IceC0ld Silver badge

    Icarus (International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space)

    someone REALLY wanted it to be called ICARUS

    human tracker COULD be TITSUP :o)

    T - rackers

    I - n

    T - hat

    S - pace

    U - sing

    P - eople

  11. Gra4662

    Lawyers

    I am sure there is some animal rights group planning to issue a law suit on behalf of a guppy because it’s rights were breached. Monkey photo case all over again

  12. Matthew Taylor

    "equipping hundreds of animals with miniature satellite transmitters". I don't think "Equipping" is the right word, it implies the animals are in on the scheme. Who knows, if this works maybe UK citizens will soon be similarly "Equipped".

  13. ArgosSatelliteSystem

    Well, in other news their new system has already failed!

    The cooling fans that are used inside the ICARUS computer had a technical malfunction, and the system was shut down (for now) indefinitely. It is fixable, but time will tell if and when they can get it stable.

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