The current issue of The Economist magazine features a story on a fascinating plan by Princeton’s Martin Wikelski to outfit birds and insects with radio transmitters and track them by satellite.

The project — called ICARUS for the International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space — “would revolutionise the way animal behaviour is studied, by allowing pests and disease carriers to be followed as well as by providing the answers to some important conservation questions,” The Economist writes.

Jeremy Kasdin, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton who leads the satellite-design team, told The Economist that he is hopeful this ambitious effort can be achieved by modifying off-the-shelf equipment.

Last spring, undergraduate students in a class taught by Kasdin and Edgar Choueiri designed exactly such a satellite system. Kasdin and some of the students recently demonstrated a computer simulation of the idea to researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Read the complete Economist article online.