our hundred years ago Galileo created a revolution by pointing his telescope to the skies. Now an astrophysicist and an ecologist from Liverpool John Moores University are reversing this perspective to help endangered species including rhinos and orang-utans. The world’s first astrophysics-ecology drone project, could be the answer to many global conservation efforts.
The authors of the study, published in the International Journal of remote Sensing, have brought together their expertise using drones, thermal cameras and the techniques used to analyse objects in space to find a solution to this 21st Century challenge for Earth.
They are using software that astronomers have developed to detect very distant objects in space, but on conservation drone footage. The paper shows that this software can robustly pick out the heat signatures of animals in an automated way. Identifying animals in such data is usually done “by eye” by individual researchers, which is very time-intensive given the exponentially growing volumes of footage. The hope is that this will overcome a fundamental bottleneck in conservation research.