Space station is taking up birdwatching with a newly installed antenna

Christopher Davidson
August 17, 2018

The spacewalk will be the first excursion for Sergey Prokopyev and the third for Oleg Artemyev, and it will be the 212th spacewalk in the International Space Station's history. The broadcast begins at 11:15 a.m. EDT (1515 GMT), and the cosmonauts are due to leave the International Space Station at 11:58 a.m. EDT (1558 GMT). The station, run jointly by Russian Federation and the United States, was launched 20 years ago at a time of much lower tensions between the countries.

Prokopyev and Artemyev have a substantial to-do list during their spacewalk, mostly focused on scientific research taking place at the International Space Station.

The animal-tracking experiment, called Icarus, is a collaboration between the German Aerospace Center and Roscosmos to study the migratory patterns of small animals on Earth. That's because spacewalkers could fix something if necessary and the computer is better protected from space radiation, he noted.

Project director Martin Wikelski of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany says researchers can better understand animal behavior through lifelong monitoring.

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Mr Wikelski said researchers had ear tags for big mammals like gazelle, jaguars, camels and elephants, as well as leg-band tags for larger birds such as storks.

"The experiment may provide data about how animals move from one location to another, how animal population density shifts over time, and how diseases spread", NASA said in a statement.

Among the things to learn - where the animals migrate, and how they grow up and manage to survive. He says the goal is to protect "our wild pets".

The apparatus that the cosmonauts installed is a German-Russian collaborative experiment known as Icarus. Ending their spacewalk program, they will take panorama pictures and shoot panoramic video within the framework of the Space 360 project.

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