In a joint experiment with German, the Geckos that were sent up to a Foton-M4 satellite, were found dead when the satellite returned to Earth on Monday according to a statement made by the Roscosmos agency.
The four female geckos and one male Gecko began making headlines in July when Stephen Colbert and other comedians along with more traditional media outlets began reporting on their plight after Russian mission controllers announced that they had lost control of the space capsule. In addition to the Gecko experiment designed to look at the effects of weightless on sex drive, nearly two dozen other experiments were on-board in order to study various organisms reaction to a prolonged time in space.
Russian Sex Geckos: What went wrong?
The Foton M4 was designed “for long-term autonomous operations without input from ground controllers,” Roscosmos said at the time.
Experts believe the geckos perished afther the heating system broke down causing them to freeze to death.
“An equipment failure probably resulted in loss of control over the temperature of the animals’ housing container,” according to a representative from a scientific commission, the science site said.
“We can say with confidence that they died at least a week before the landing because their bodies were partly mummified,” an official from Russia’s Institute of Medical and Biological Problems told Itar-Tass news agency.
Fruit flies did well though
The Russian space agency has not yet outlined the cause of death. It wasn’t a total loss as Drosophila fruit flies that accompanied the geckos survived and even multiplied.
In addition to the insects and lizard, scientist also sent a number of mushroom spores and plant seeds into space to study the results and a vacuum furnace also made the trip to study the effects of low-gravity conditions on metal alloys.
Given the deaths of numerous animals including monkeys, dogs and Space Shuttle astronauts, the geckos deaths will be forgotten soon enough.