When he returns to earth Tuesday evening, Kelly will have spent 340 days aboard the ISS.
While on the International Space Station with Russian astronaut Mikhail Korniyenko, Kelly became a social media sensation thanks to his haunting pictures of planet earth and some of its nearest neighbours. But he was longing to see his family and yearning on returning to a life with gravity, showers and contact “with folks on the ground that you care for and love and want to spend time with”. After he lands on Tuesday in Kazakhstan, researchers are going to be swarming Kelly like biology students with their first lab rat.
The Northwestern-led research team is one of 10 NASA-funded groups across the country studying Scott and Mark Kelly to learn how living in space for a long period of time – such as a mission to Mars – affects the human body.
Exactly how much outer space twists and mutates our DNA is a subject Kelly can help us understand, because he has a twin brother with exactly the same genetic code. NASA will use that information in planning for a future trip to Mars.
Once out of the capsule, the two will undergo a series of field tests including a mini-obstacle course and trying to stand still for three minutes.
“Our studies will provide important data on how the space environment impacts the human body at the molecular level so that NASA can identify risk factors and countermeasures for possible health issues induced by prolonged space travel, such as a mission to Mars”, said Rana.
Astronaut Tim Kopra has now taken command in space.
“I could go another 100 days”, Kelly said during a news conference last week, the Washington Post reports. Discharging his duties off space, Kelly will plummet through Earth’s atmosphere in a Soyuz spacecraft. Could they jump up and down? They also helped with or participated in six spacewalks.
All these questions were asked by Dr. Stevan Gilmore, the lead surgeon who will be receiving Kelly. Some of these experiments include the collection of blood samples as well as psychological and physical tests. His year-long stay makes him the first American to endure such a feat.