Since ancient times people have believed that animals have the ability to sense and anticipate earthquakes, tsunami or other natural disasters. And there’s evidence to support this belief. Back in 2005 when a tsunami hit many countries in the Indic Ocean there were many reports of odd behavior in wild and domestic animals and there were almost no animal victims in the aftermath. Now, there is a way to “borrow” this mysterious sense using tracking tags and the International Space Station (ISS).

The project is called ICARUS (International Co-operation for Animal Research Using Space) and refers to the greek myth of the winged man that almost reached the sun and fell to the sea when the heat melted his fake wings. In spring 2017 a Russian rocket will take an antenna to the ISS and from there it will be able to track the solar powered tags, small enough to be attached to songbirds and tough enough to be put on whales. If everything goes as planned, as much as 20.000 animals will be tagged in the next two years.

With all the data collected we could be able to see unusual activities in large animal populations and take preventive measures right on time. It could also give us and unprecedented tool to reveal many mysteries of the natural world: nesting areas, new migration routes, interactions with other species, and even where and why they die. The team is lead by Dr. Martin Wikelski from the Max Planck Institute who is confident that the research results will be of invaluable importance for mankind and for all life on earth. Luckily, this project does have real wings to rely on, unlike the mythical Icarus.

Source: ICARUS Initiative

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