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Flying Pet Store of Death

By Norman Chan

Mice and gerbils perish in space flight experiment.

Lee Hutchinson of ArsTechnica reports on the recent life sciences experiment conducted by Russia's space agency and Institute of Medical and Biological Problems. Russia sent a Bion-M satellite into orbit at an altitude of 350 miles above Earth to study the effects of prolonged exposure to microgravity on biological organisms, in this case mice, gerbils, newts, and snails. Unfortunately, the food supply system for feeding the mice failed at launch, leading to the premature deaths of most of the rodents during the month-long mission. Still, the mission was considered an overall success, and will hopefully yield information scientists can use to further the pursuit of a manned Mars mission.