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Scott Kelly returned to Earth after a year in space. Why his mission is so important

L’anno trascorso sulla Iss ci servirà a capire come risponde il corpo umano ad una prolungata permanenza nello spazio. Secondo Kelly arrivare su Marte “è assolutamente possibile”.

Scott Kelly landed in Kazakhstan at 10:26 a.m. local time on 2 March, after a 340-day mission in the International Space Station, making the longest-ever spaceflight for a U.S. astronaut.

 

scott kelly
A selfie from the International Space Station, published on Kelly’s official Facebook page

 

“Scott Kelly’s one-year mission aboard the International Space Station has helped to advance deep space exploration and America’s Journey to Mars,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “Scott has become the first American astronaut to spend a year in space, and in so doing, helped us take one giant leap toward putting boots on Mars.”

 

During the historic mission, the crew conducted nearly 400 experiments – including growing vegetable species – that will be useful for NASA and all of humanity. Kelly and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Kornienko specifically participated in a number of studies to inform NASA’s Journey to Mars, including research into how the human body adjusts to weightlessness, isolation, radiation and the stress of long-duration spaceflight.

 

“Physically, I feel pretty good,” the astronaut said during his last press conference before entering the Soyuz capsule. “The hardest part is being isolated from people on the ground who are important to you,” he said. Moreover, what’s surprising is the new perspective you look the Earth from. “Earth’s atmosphere looks very, very fragile and like something that we need to take care of. There are definitely parts of Asia, Central America that when you look at them from space, you’re always looking through a haze of pollution”.

The science beyond #YearInSpace

Kelly’s 340-day mission in the ISS allowed assessing the physiological reactions of the human body during a long stay in space. For instance, it allowed examining fluid shifts in eyes and if long exposure to weightlessness influences sight; the astronaut’s state of mind and mobility after months spent in restricted spaces; how intestinal flora – fundamental for the astronaut’s good health and for evaluating the general state of health, as for metabolism, muscles, and bones – has changed. All data will be used to understand how to set up long-range missions, in particular that to Mars.

 

Facts and figures of #YearInSpace

 

231 million kilometres
travelled. More precisely, 231,498,542, the same distance to get to Mars.

 

5,440
orbits around the Earth. The International Space Station orbits the Earth each 90 minutes.

 

9

visiting vehicles brought food, supplies, experiments and more crew members to the space station.

 

10,880
sunrises and sunsets.

 

730
litres of recycled urine and sweat consumed. Water is a precious and limited resource in space, so crew members recycle it whenever possible.

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