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Foton returns to Earth, but geckos perish
Posted: Wed, Sep 3, 2014, 2:02 PM ET (1802 GMT)
Foton-M4 after landing (Roscosmos) A Russian research spacecraft returned to Earth on Monday, but its most celebrated payload did not survive the trip. The Foton-M4 spacecraft, launched in mid-July, landed Monday at 5:18 am EDT (0918 GMT, 1:18 pm Moscow time), returning to Earth biological and other experiments. However, five geckos that flew on the spacecraft were found to be dead upon landing. Russian media report that the geckos died of hypothermia, likely because of the failure of a thermal control system. It wasn't clear if that failure was linked to control problems the spacecraft experienced in the days after launch. Other experiments on the spacecraft, including one involving flies, were declared successful by Russian officials.
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