Space Experiment Will Track Animals On Earth
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
From migrant workers, let's go to migrating creatures. Scientists have a new way to track where animals and insects travel. They'll be monitored from space. The Max Planck Institute for Ornithology is installing equipment aboard the International Space Station. Director Martin Wikelski says it will pick up signals from tiny transmitters on the ground.
MARTIN WIKELSKI: We have put trackers on probably a total of maybe 3,000 animals from bumblebees to big brown bats to albatrosses and elephants.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And Wikelski says these devices will help track animal movements.
WIKELSKI: Usually, we can't observe something like a songbird that's migrating from Canada to South America or a fish that's going through the oceans. So anything that moves around the world and that's very difficult to observe, we want to observe in a lot of detail to understand its life.
INSKEEP: You don't think of these trackers as tiny Fitbits that will provide all kinds of information like how fast the animal moves or the temperature of its environment?
WIKELSKI: We can, for example, follow the griffon that flies from India to Mongolia. And we can measure the 3-D wind field over the Himalayas and make weather predictions with that.
MONTAGNE: Martin Wikelski also hopes this tracking method helps deter poachers who might fear or actually be tracked themselves.
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