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article imageSpace tragedy: Five geckos in Russian sex study froze to death

By Igor I. Solar     Sep 2, 2014 in Science
Moscow - Five geckos sent into space on a Russian satellite as part of an experiment to evaluate their reproductive capacity under conditions of weightlessness have died, said Roscosmos, the Russian Space Agency.
Roscosmos issued a statement reporting that the Photon-M4 probe returned to Earth on Monday. In reviewing the condition of the organisms involved in several biological experiments on the spacecraft, the five lizards were found dead. According to researchers, the reptiles most likely froze to death following a failure of the satellite’s heating system.
The objective of the research was to study the effects of micro-gravity on the geckos’ reproductive behavior, fertility, structure and health of their eggs. Scientists will review the recordings of cameras on board to find out if the geckos had any sexual activity before their tragic death.
In contrast, Drosophila fruit flies, which were also on the spacecraft for a similar experiment, survived the severe conditions in Photon-M4, and managed to reproduce, Roscosmos said in the statement.
The six-ton vehicle was launched on July 19 and according to plan it was supposed to stay in orbit conducting various experiments during two months. However, it was returned to Earth after 44 days in orbit.
Shortly after launch, Roscosmos lost contact with the spaceship, but communication was restored after a few hours allowing the continuation of the study.
More about Geckos, Sex experiment, Roscosmos, russian federal space agency, space science
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