news Thursday, January 29, 2015 - 05:30

The News Minute | July 25, 2014 | 4:24 PM IST 

The Washington Post reports that a satellite launched by Russia on July 19 with five geckos, a type of lizard on-board has gone missing in the outer space. Reportedly these geckos were sent to space by Russia to observe how the “weightlessness will affect the sex life” of the reptiles.

The report says that even other creatures and organisms like plants and insects, were also left on board for experiments. But the satellite lost contact with its mission control post soon after its first few orbits. The equipment on board of the satellite is still responding to commands from the control post, a spokesman for Russia's Institute of Bio-medical Problems said.

The satellite named Foton-M is now being pursued by experts, who are trying to reestablish a connection with it. The lives of the five geckos- four male and a female, now looms in uncertainty as the scientists back home fear that the 60-day mission is already a failure. 

In the meantime, those lizards are being left more or less alone, to do as nature intended for the rest of the 60 days mission. Right now, since there is nominal response from the equipments on board, Russia believes that the geckos are safe and sound. 

The scientists say that getting in touch with the satellite is extremely important as only then can the satellite be brought back to Earth, after which further studies should be conducted on the geckos. 

Foton- M series are a continuation of Russia’s Bion spacecraft which is intended to study the effects of space travel on various species.
In 2012, gerbils, mice and fish sent to space by Russia on a similar mission, died after the Russian Bion – M satellite crashed shortly after launch.

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