Russia has lost control of a satellite full of lizards (Wired UK)


A Russian satellite with five lizards on board is currently
floating in space, beyond the control of the researchers who
launched it.

The Photon-M4 is a research satellite that launched from the
Baikinur Cosmodrome on 19 July with the intention of studying the
effects of microgravity on plants, insects and gecko mating
activities. Mission control lost the ability to control the
satellite after it made its first few orbits around Earth.
Thankfully, the team from Russia’s Institute of Biomedical Problems
is still receiving scientific data from the on-board experiments.
“We receive the telemetry data from the spacecraft and analyse it.
The current tasks have so far been fulfilled,” said the Institute’s
spokesman Oleg Voloshin to RIA Novosti.

The Photon-M4 is a robotic spacecraft used by Russia and the
European Space Agency to carry out research in microgravity. Its
launch and separation from the launch vehicle went smoothly, but
after a few laps of Earth it stopped responding to mission

Despite the lack of control over the spacecraft, the geckos will
soon start to reproduce — one of the main mission objectives for
the Photon-M satellite — according to a spokesperson of the Institute.

“The telemetry information we receive [from the Foton-M] proves
that geckos and fruit flies are alive, healthy and eat regularly.
The conditions in the bio capsule are quite comfortable and we
assume that they will soon start to reproduce. After all, it was
one of the main missions of the scientific program,” a
representative told Ria Novosti.

The Photon-M4 was designed as a virtual replica — at least in
appearance — of the beleaguered Bion-M satellite, which launched in April 2013.
On board were 45 mice, 8 gerbils, 15 newts, as well as snails,
crayfish and plants, all of which were supposed to be used to
understand how living creatures could cope with extended time in
space. Sadly within 30 days the majority of the furry crew
perished, although reportedly all of the newts survived. 

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25 July 2014 | 12:56 pm – Source:

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