The first satellite-based program to investigate animal migration is scheduled to kick off in autumn 2018


Invitation to join a global animal observation network


Invitation to join a global animal observation network [more]

About Icarus


Icarus stands for International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space. Scientists taking part in the Icarus-initiative are working together to develop a satellite-based system to observe small animals such as birds, bats and turtles.

Scientists want to use Icarus to find out more about the life of animals on earth: the migratory routes they take and their living conditions. These findings will aid behavioural research, species protection and research into the paths taken in the spread of infectious diseases. The information should even help to predict ecological changes and natural disasters.

In the process, the Icarus researchers will attach mini-transmitters to a variety of animal species. These transmitters then send their measurement data to a receiver station in space. The receiver station in turn transmits the data to a ground station from where it is sent to the relevant teams of researchers. The results will be published in a database that will be accessible to everyone:


A new eara of animal ecology: Martin Wikelski about the vision of the Icarus-mission

Observing the earth through animals

A new eara of animal ecology: Martin Wikelski about the vision of the Icarus-mission [more]


October 2017: Transport of the onboard computer to the ISS

February 2018: Transport of the antennae to the ISS, hardware inistallation

August 2018: Launch of Icarus

2018/2019: Test phase with around 1,000 transmitters per year for selected projects



Prof. Dr. Martin Wikelski
Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Radolfzell, and University of Konstanz


Scientific advisory board:

Prof. Dr. Meg Crofoot
UC Davis and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama

Prof. Dr. Roland Kays
North Carolina State University and Director of the Biodiversity & Earth Observation Lab, Nature Research Center, NC Museum of Natural Sciences, USA

Prof. Dr. Kasper Thorup
Head of the Bird Ringing Department at the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen

Dr. Grigori Tertitski
Institute of Geography at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow

Prof. Dr. Gil Bohrer
Ohio State University


Project coordination:

Uschi Müller
Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Radolfzell



University of Konstanz

Princeton University

University of Copenhagen

North Carolina State University & Museum of Natural Sciences

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Institute of Geography, Moscow

International Astronautical Federation (IAF)


Icarus technology is being developed by:

SpaceTech GmbH, Immenstaad

Steinbeis Transferzentrum Raumfahrt S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation ≪Energia≫, Moscow

INRADIOS integrated radio solutions GmbH, Dresden

von Hoerner & Sulger GmbH, Schwetzingen

STT-SystemTechnik GmbH, Munich

Institute of Communications and Navigation at the German Aerospace Center (DLR), Oberpfaffenhofen

Chair for RF and Photonics Engineering, Communications Laboratory at TU Dresden

Professorship for Information Transmission Systems, Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering at the Universität der Bundeswehr München

Sevskiy GmbH, Munich

Icarus is sponsored by:

The Max Planck Society

Space Administration at the German Aerospace Center (DLR)

Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos)

European Space Agency (ESA)

National Geographic

National Science Foundation (NSF)

German Research Foundation (DFG)


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