67 years ago, the US sent fruit flies into space inside a V-2 rocket to see if they could survive the radiation. Thus began a long and storied history of bringing animals off planet to explore what happens when gravity disappears. One of the latest: a Russian satellite called Foton-M No. 4 that was launched into orbit last week containing fruit flies once again. But this time there were also five geckos, whose sex lives were going to be studied on camera — for science. That was until one of the engines controlling the satellite stopped responding to ground commands that were trying to raise the vessel into a higher orbit.
According to a representative for Russia’s Institute of Medico-Biological problems who spoke with Agence France-Presse, all other parts of the satellite are working as expected, including life support systems that will keep the experiments running. Scientists are also able to remotely monitor data that’s being sent back. However, the geckos have a limited food supply that could run out in just two and a half months, which could happen long before the satellite falls out of orbit and back down towards Earth, says The Guardian. In the meantime, officials are attempting to restore communication with the satellite.
Read More | “Russia has lost control of a gecko sex experiment in space” | Josh Lowensohn | The Verge