The ICARUS on-board equipment has been sent to the ISS February 2018 and was successfully installed August 15th, 2018 on the Russian segment of the International Space Station (ISS).

Key characteristics
  • Consists of electronic unit, transmit antenna and 3 receive antennas
  • Detection of up to 500 tags in the reception range of the antennas
  • Provides communication coverage with tag of 90 % within 24 hours in an area between 58° Northern and Southern latitudes

Overview MPIO

Overview of deployed ICARUS system

Technical challenges
  • Global tag coverage to record long distance migration patterns
  • Simultaneous communication with a multitude of animal tags
  • Extremely low tag mass and size to allow tracking of small animals
  • Long, maintenance-free tag life in order to cover complete migration cycles
  • Logging of internal (physiological) and external (environmental) state of animals

The project got underway in 2002, the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (MPIO) in Radolfzell/Konstanz (Germany) holds the leading role of the international consortium and the DLR aerospace management is funding the project since 2012. More information about the project can be found at:

Impressions of the ICARUS project
  • 01_ICARUS_early_concept
  • 02_ICARUS_Concept
  • 03-Basic-Tag-Model
  • 04-Illustration_ISS_Overflight
  • 05-Typical-Ground-Pattern_Link-Probability
  • 06-ICARUS_Antenna_STI_Cleanroom
  • 07-NBL-Test_Therme-Konstanz
  • 08-ICARUS-Antenna-in-Cleanroom
  • 09-STI_ICARUS_Team_Cleanroom
  • 10-Progress-Launcher-with_ISS-Demonstrator
  • 11-Handover-Hardware-to-Russian-Team
  • 12-Progress-launcher-on-launch-pad
  • 13-Launch-of-ICARUS-ISS-Demonstrator-with-Progress-Launcher-Baikonur