Project members

Uschi Müller
Uschi Müller
Project Manager ICARUS
Phone: +49 7531 88-4725
Bernd Vorneweg
Bernd Vorneweg
System Engineer
Phone: +49 7732 1501 71

ICARUS Executive Board


Prof. Dr. Meg Crofoot

Assistant Professor

Dept. of Anthropology, University of California, Davis, USA


Prof. Dr. Kasper Thorup

Associate Professor

Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Denmark


Dr. Grigori Tertitski

Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia

ICARUS Brochure



ICARUS' mission is to work towards establishing a remote sensing platform for scientists world-wide that  track small organisms globally, enabling observations and experiments over large spatial scales.

What is ICARUS?

ICARUS, short for 'International Cooperation for animal Research Using Space', is a global collaboration of animal scientists to establish a satellite based infrastructure for earth observation of small objects such as migratory birds, bats, or sea turtles.


ICARUS will help solve two major enigmas in biology: we need to understand

  • the ontogeny of behavioral and movement traits of animals in the wild, and

  • the selection acting on individuals in the wild (i.e., where, why and when do individuals die).

ICARUS will also provide a seeing-eye dog for humankind. We will use the evolved senses of animals for remote sensing. Examples are:

  • Disaster forecast via animals
  • Health and disease (Avian Influenza, Foot and Mouth Disease, Ebola)
  • Ecosystem services (pollination, pest control, seed dispersal)
  • Conservation (dispersal & conservation of endangered species)
  • Global change (habitat shifts, desertification, glacial melts)
  • Discovery of unknown migrations

How does ICARUS work?

  • Data collection in black-box-logger on individual small animals including GPS, 3D-acceleration and other sensors
  • Autonomous energy supply (solar cell in combination with rechargeable batteries)
  • On board processing, data reduction, and selection of relevant data
  • Transmission of small data packages to LEO satellite (about 400MHz transmission using 3 receiving antennas)
  • CDMA coding of signal and data
  • Decoding of signal on board of satellite, downlink to ground station (15kg for receiver at 110W)
  • Data distribution and storage via Movebank

Next steps of ICARUS

  •  ICARUS will fly experimentally on the International Space Station (ISS)
  • 2015 Launch
  • 2016-17 Testing phase with pre-selected projects
  • 2018 Opening ICARUS for the scientific community

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