Best headline contender: “Russia confirms death of five geckos on space sex mission”

The Guardian brings a small tragedy happening a long, long way away vividly home with 10 well-chosen words: Russia confirms death of five geckos on space sex mission:

The federal space agency released a statement saying the landing apparatus of the Photon-M satellite had returned to earth as planned, falling into Russia’s Orenburg region at 1.18pm Moscow time, and that the entire herpetological crew had perished at some point during their odyssey. With four female lizards and one male on board, Russian scientists had hoped to learn how zero gravity would affect the sexual habits of geckos.

A representative at the Institute of Biomedical Problems (ISTC), which participated in the experiment, explained to Russian news agency Itar-Tass simply said: “It’s still too early to talk about the geckos’ cause of death.” A source in a scientific commission involved later told the Interfax wire service that “According to the preliminary information, it became clear the geckos froze. Most likely, this happened due to a failure of the equipment meant to ensure the temperature of the box with the animals.”

It could have been so hot, but alas, it was too cold.