It carries 45 mice, eight Mongolian gerbils, 15 geckos, snails, fish eggs, micro-organisms and plants
Russia on Friday launched an “orbital Noah's Ark” to space — a bio-satellite packed with an array of mice and other small creatures to study the effects of long flights on living organisms.
Russia’s latest BION-M1 biological research capsule carrying 45 mice, eight Mongolian gerbils, 15 geckos, snails, fish eggs, micro-organisms and plants blasted off aboard the modernised Soyuz 2 rocket from the Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan.
During the 30-day flight the “crew” will take part in more than 70 genetic, physiological and biological experiments that should help prepare better for flights to Mars and other planets.
The results will be analysed when the capsule with the animals returns to Earth on May 18.
Shortly before the flight a “crew” of three mice had to be replaced when stressed males fought each other and killed one of them. One of the experiments will probe the theory of extra-terrestrial origin of life on Earth.
A meteorite-type heat-resistant material with tiny holes carrying various bacteria and fungi has been attached to the outer skin of the satellite. The microbes will be exposed to freezing temperatures, space vacuum and re-entry heat to see if they can survive travel through space. Russia has resumed biological satellite launches after a break of 15 years. The BION-M satellite has new sophisticated lift-support systems, more powerful solar cell panels and larger fuel tanks that allow for flights of up to three months.
Keywords: Russian bio-satellite