May 20, 2013 in Nation/World

Small critters return from space

Associated Press
 

MOSCOW – A Russian capsule carrying mice, lizards and other small animals returned to Earth on Sunday after spending a month in space for what scientists said was the longest experiment of its kind.

Fewer than half of the 53 mice and other rodents who blasted off on April 19 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome survived the flight, Russian news agencies reported, quoting Vladimir Sychov, deputy director of the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems and the lead researcher.

Sychov said this was to be expected and the surviving mice were sufficient to complete the study, which was designed to show the effects of weightlessness and other factors of space flight on cell structure. All 15 of the lizards survived, he said. The capsule also carried small crayfish and fish.

Russian state television showed the round Bion-M capsule and some of the surviving mice after a safe landing in a field near Orenburg, about 750 miles southeast of Moscow.

The mice and other animals were to be flown back to Moscow to undergo a series of tests at Sychov’s institute, which is part of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

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