Hypothermia has killed geckos, test subjects traveling aboard the Foton-M4 research spacecraft, a source in the commission, which controlled the landing and evacuation of the spacecraft's scientific payload, told Interfax-AVN.
"Tentative information shows that geckos have frozen to death. Most probably, thermal regulation equipment in the animals' compartment broke down," he said.
The geckos could have died at any stage of the flight and it is impossible to tell the time of death by their mummies, the source said, adding that reports alleging the gecko deaths happened about a week ago were wrong.
The source noted that the spacecraft's failure to reach the final orbit was not the cause of the animals' death.
At the same time, the researchers have a reason to be happy: the Foton-M instruments studying the possibility of life brought to the Earth from the outer space are intact, he said. The objects, which looked like rocks with multiple cavities, were installed on the spacecraft's surface and passed through the Earth atmosphere unharmed.
"In contrast to a similar experiment staged by the Bion spacecraft, the scientific instruments mounted on the spacecraft's surface were unharmed and successfully removed," the source said.
The scientists corrected mistakes of the Bion experiment in which some of the scientific instruments melted in dense layers of the atmosphere, the source said.
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