Recently I wrote about the Evolution Series 500 Hybrid unit, or ES-500 for short. This is one of several Argos-enabled models we make, allowing users to transmit data even when whatever they’re tracking decides to venture beyond GSM range (such as animals that migrant to and from the Arctic). Ever since our humble beginnings we’ve provided an extensive backend interface that allows researchers to monitor the behavior of their transmitters, export their data in various formats, and forecast the conditions wherever their species happens to be, or is heading. This gives the user flexibility to decide when and where to update the duty cycle on their transmitters, allowing them to get more conservative when the animals are away from zones deemed important by the research questions, or to collect more data when specific conditions are met. I’ll cover the traditional GSM backend in another post, but today I want to introduce you to the Argos backend, which supports the data stream specifically created when your animal transmits data over the Argos satellite connection.
All of your Argos data, in one place
When you log in to your account you’ll now see a “My Argos” menu item at the top of the page, and clicking on it takes you to a single screen with all of your registered Argos-enabled transmitters. When we built this site, we considered the many requests of our users who wanted something straightforward and offered simple data downloads. This has it all! From here you can select an individual unit to display details on battery, the daily fix count, and a table listing each transmission from your unit to the Argos satellite.
No, your eyes aren’t failing you, I just blurred out the details since this is an actual unit currently deployed, and your data privacy is super important to us (the Argos unit ID above has also been replaced with a fake one). The point here is that everything you need to know about your Argos data is present in one location, and from here you can download your data as a CSV and load it into your favorite GIS or analysis software.
How does this data differ from GSM?
It’s important to remember that sending data over Argos is limited, and Argos units have always been a compromise between global coverage and the amount of data you could collect. Our GPS/GSM/Argos hybrid units use satellite pass prediction to send the last 30 GPS fixes in each transmission to Argos, giving you high-resolution clusters of GPS data, plus transmitter health reports and activity indices. These are important for determining if your animal has died; coupled with the GPS data you can deploy a mission to recover the animal and the transmitter. You can see above, two clusters of GPS fixes connected by a line, indicating migration. Taken together, these clusters can provide important insight into animal movement while not sending massive datasets over Argos. But those massive datasets are still being stored on-board the unit, and will be sent during the next time the animal is within GSM range. This is why we consider our GPS/GSM/Argos hybrids to be truly the best of both worlds.
So there you have it, the CTT Argos backend! Created with the end-user in mind, making it easy for you to visualize your data, keep tabs on your transmitters, and giving you more time to answer the important questions of your research. So, now that you’ve seen our backed, how do we look in these skinny jeans?