UNITED NEWS INTERNATIONAL (UNI) — The same technology used to hunt distant stars may help protect endangered animals from poachers.

Astrophysicists at the Royal Astronomical Society and ecologists at Liverpool John Moores University teamed up to develop special drones.

These drones are equipped with cameras programmed with the same software used by NASA to track stars and galaxies.

Because the software uses heat signals to find stars, it can also be programmed to recognize the thermal footprints of specific animal species.

Cameras made for daylight don’t work at night and aren’t able to spot poachers or animals moving through dense vegetation.

Infrared cameras are better but they record too much footage for anyone to sort through.

These new cameras could solve these issues.

Researchers presented the project April 3 at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science.

They hope to start selling the drones in five years.