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article imageCommunication with Russian gecko sex satellite restored

By Igor I. Solar     Jul 26, 2014 in Science
Moscow - The Russian Federal Space Agency announced that it has restored contact with its Foton-M4 satellite, lost three days ago. The spacecraft carries a set of scientific tests including five geckos to study the effect of micro-gravity on their fertility.
Five lizards are on board the Russian satellite Foton-M4, a research spaceship that aims to study life in space. The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) lost contact with the craft on Thursday, less than a week after launch. However, contact was restored today, according to Russian Times.
"We conducted several communication sessions and the link is stable," said Oleg Ostapenko, the head of Roscosmos. "We are confident that we will be able to perform 90 percent of what was originally planned," he added.
Foton-M4 will continue in the same initial Earth orbit until Monday while scientists consider whether the experiments originally planned can be carried out successfully, when the satellite is farther from the Earth. Engineers are analyzing what could have caused the unexpected communication failure.
The mission should last 60 days. The satellite carries equipment for various experiments with organisms including some microbes, fungi, fruit flies, and five lizards. The main experiment involves the reproductive performance of the lizards, one female and four males. The objective is to study the effects of micro-gravity on the geckos’ reproductive behavior, fertility, structure and health of their eggs. Each stage of the mating ritual will be filmed by multiple cameras on board. The scientists anticipate that they will be able to remotely watch the videos of geckos mating at zero-gravity.
It is expected that the satellite will return to Earth in a controlled manner two months after its launch on July 19 from Baikonur Cosmodrome located in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan.
More about space science, Geckos, russian federal space agency, FotonM4, Baikonur Cosmodrome
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