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Russia’s space agency has re-established communication with its Foton-M4 satellite in Earth’s low orbit, three days after losing contact. The robotic spacecraft contains geckos participating in experiments on how space conditions impact reproduction. Foton-M4 will be following its current orbit until Monday, while scientists discuss whether their experiments require the original trajectory, which is further from Earth, and engineers try to analyze what may have led to the communication failure. The two main versions considered by Roscosmos are mechanical damage through contact with space debris, and an internal fault in the equipment.
“We have conducted several communication sessions, and the link is stable,” said Roscosmos chief Oleg Ostapenko.
Credit image: Oleg Voloshin
The satellite, the latest in a series that commenced in 2002, is meant to return to Earth in a controlled manner two months after its launch with Soyuz from Baikonur cosmodrome exactly a week ago.
Credit image: Roscosmos
If, upon its return, it is discovered that the Foton-M4 was damaged by space debris, it will raise concern at the increasing pollution of the atmosphere. There are an estimated 22,000 man-made objects 10 centimeters or larger in orbit – big enough to penetrate the outer covering of the International Space Station ISS.
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