Russian officials say they’ve regained contact with a satellite containing mating geckos. The satellite had gone out of contact, leading to an unlikely appeal from HBO’s John Oliver.
The Foton-M4 satellite launched in July contained an enclosure housing one male and four female geckos. They’ve got a ventilation system, two months’ worth of food and even a waste disposal system.
The mission is planned to last long enough that not only can the lizards do what comes naturally, but any eggs produced will hatch while still in orbit. Multiple cameras will provide footage for analysis of what effects micro-gravity has on both the mating and hatching process.
The satellite is also housing fruit flies, mushrooms, microbes and crystals for a variety of other experiments including studying how electricity can be generated in space.
Only a week after launch, ground control lost signal from the satellite, with the assumption being that it had been hit by space debris. That lead to John Oliver doing a tongue-in-cheek appeal for governments around the world to lend their efforts to rescuing the creatures, calling for Twitter users to spread the hashtag #GoGetThoseGeckos.
Russia’s space agency Roscomos has since said that contact was re-established after three days and that around 90 percent of the planned study should still be possible. The main risk to the study is that the satellite is now on a new trajectory closer to Earth, which could affect any calculations with the results.
One commenter on the Russia Today site has speculated the communications may have been cut by the geckos themselves, hoping for a little privacy as they fulfilled their research task.
(Image credit: Roscosmos)