Rodents return to Earth after space flight
Moscow: The returnable capsule of a biological research satellite landed in Russia Sunday, bringing mice, Mongolian gerbils, geckos and various micro-organisms and plants back to Earth after their month-long flight, the Mission Control said.
The capsule landed in Orenburg region near the border with Kazakhstan.
The descent vehicle separated from the equipment module of the Bion-M spacecraft at 6.32 a.m. Moscow time (0232 GMT).
After successfully passing through the dense layers of the Earth's atmosphere, the capsule landed at 07.12 a.m. Moscow time at the designated area, about 100 km from Orenburg, Mission Control said.
Specialists of the Progress Space Research and Production Space Centre and the Institute of Medical and Biological Studies arrived at the site of the landing and opened the hatches to bring the animals out of the capsule, one of the specialists said.
Russia launched the Bion-1M satellite, its first biological research satellite since 2007, April 19 to conduct fundamental and applied research in space biology, physiology and biotechnology while in orbit and help pave the way for future interplanetary flights, according to federal space agency Roscosmos.
Bion-M1 carried eight Mongolian gerbils, 45 mice, 15 geckos, snails and containers with various micro-organisms and plants.
During its 30-day flight, more than 70 physiological, morphological, genetic and molecular-biological experiments were conducted in support of long-duration interplanetary flights including Mars missions.
The research programme included experiments with rodents to study the organism's systemic reactions to micro-gravitation, as well as the impact of radiation and micro-gravitation on the organism.