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Earth Space

Mice, Newts Retrieved After a Month Orbiting Earth At 345 Miles Up 85

Posted by timothy
from the eye-of-space-newt-was-called-for dept.
The Associated Press (as carried by the Washington Post) reports that a living payload of newts and mice has been retrieved after a month orbiting earth in a Russian space capsule at an altitude of 345 miles, far higher than the ISS's orbital distance of 205 miles. Says the story: "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."
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Mice, Newts Retrieved After a Month Orbiting Earth At 345 Miles Up

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  • Cause of death (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jerry Smith (806480) on Sunday May 19, 2013 @04:45PM (#43769473) Homepage Journal

    Radiation? Life support system malfunctions? Launch related problems? Bit more details would make it interesting.

  • Re:Cause of death (Score:4, Interesting)

    by flayzernax (1060680) on Sunday May 19, 2013 @05:20PM (#43769629)

    I wonder if it's far enough to get out of the earths magnetosphere. By the way if they didn't mention problems with the experiment its probably safe to assume everything went up and operated fine. Don't know till someone releases a paper in a journal though.

    I would wager bone loss in the mammals and weightlessness are the biggest contributing factors to death/disease. It could have been something else like mice getting upset and turning on each other because of their environment. Even simple non aggressive animals like frogs can become aggressive due to boredom and environmental reasons.

    Perhaps a lower metabolism benefited the lizards/newts. Time to RTFA =)

  • Re:Cause of death (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Sunday May 19, 2013 @07:18PM (#43770073)

    Radiation? Life support system malfunctions? Launch related problems? Bit more details would make it interesting.

    Also, how did they dispose of the dead mice, and mouse poop? If the dead and decaying mice, and mouse poop, were floating around with the living mice, that would not be a healthy environment, and may explain some of the subsequent deaths.

  • Re:Cause of death (Score:5, Interesting)

    by capebretonsux (758684) on Sunday May 19, 2013 @10:44PM (#43770955)
    Without a doubt, heart attacks. I work with lab mice every day, and they're very high strung creatures. When we order mice from a supply house they often pack in one or two 'extra' mice in the event a death occurs in transit. This is just regular shipping via truck/plane, so the stresses of going through a launch into orbit being so much more I'd expect a high mortality rate.

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