On February 13, a Russian rocket transferred the mission antenna Icarus to the ISS. As a result, another key component of the orbital animal tracking system was added to the Icarus on-board computer. The system was created by scientists from the Max Planck Society, which allows researchers from around the world to study the movements of animals and determine their living conditions.
The Soyuz-Progress rocket launched on February 13 from the Baikonur cosmodrome (Kazakhstan). Icarus antenna weight is 200 kg. If the clutch had failed, it would have thrown the project several steps back.
The antennas delivered to the ISS include three receiving antennas with a length of up to two meters and one transmitting one. The first are able to collect information from 15 million and more transmitters around the world. The weight of miniature transmitters is 5 grams. Now you can track the movement of even small creatures, like birds. The first animals with mini-transmitters will be blackbirds. Transmitting antennas will send configuration commands to the Icarus tags, as well as accurate orbital data about when the tags come into contact with the receiving station. The antennas are mounted on two folding blades and receive signals over an area of 30 x 800 km. The ISS trajectory moves 2500 km to the west with each rotation around the Earth, so the antennas will cover up to 80% of the surface in one day.
In early August, cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopiev will go on a 5-hour walk to install antennas outside the Russian service module. This will start the two-month verification phase of the system components. If all goes well, then Icarus will begin scientific missions in the fall of 2018.