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Space capsule returned cosmic rodents to Earth after a month flight.
On May 19, 2013 the returnable capsule of the "Bion-M” biological research satellite landed in a distance of 100 kilometers northeast of the city of Orenburg Region, Russia. The descent vehicle separated from the equipment module of the Bion-M spacecraft at 6:32 a.m. Moscow time (02:32 UTC). After successfully passing through the dense layers of the Earth’s atmosphere, the capsule landed at 07:12 Moscow time at the designated area. Russian space officials announced that a capsule containing mice and lizards has returned to Earth, but most of them died during their time in space, according to media reports. The Bion-M capsule carried 45 mice, 15 newts, snails, lizards, plants, microflora, and eight gerbils, but majority of the mice and newts failed to survive, while all of the gerbils perished. The trip was to test the effects of microgravity on living organisms' skeletons, nervous systems, muscles and hearts.