Lizard lovers were mourning last week after it was announced that Russia’s space agency had lost control of a satellite carrying geckos and various other organisms less than one week after its launch. But it’s OK, the lustrous lizards may make it home safe after all as communication has reportedly been re-established with the infamous “gecko sex satellite,” according to Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency.
The satellite, Foton-M4, was launched on 19 July from the Baikonur Cosmodrome with the hope of conducting numerous experiments over a two month period, including testing the effect of weightlessness on gecko mating. Five geckos were on board- four females and one lucky male- in a special container surrounded by cameras hoping to catch any randy lizard behavior. Researchers hoped to find out whether microgravity affected their fertility and reproductive cells.
But things didn’t look so good for the little critters when Russia reportedly lost control of the satellite for three days. If communication was not re-established, it was likely that the geckos would have died of starvation and that the satellite would eventually fall out of orbit. Luckily, however, control was regained on Saturday, and scientists are hopeful that the experiments can continue.
Roscosmos are not certain as to why control was lost, but they think it may have been down to a mechanical fault or an altercation with space debris.
[Header image "Gecko and a beer, Kona, Hawaii" by Steve Dunleavy, via Flickr, used in accordance with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]