NASA's #YearInSpace mission: Eight things to know!

The space mission has been a huge help to US space agency NASA, in terms of research and findings.  

NASA's #YearInSpace mission: Eight things to know!
Image courtesy: NASA

Zee Media Bureau

​New Delhi: American astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko completed their year-long space mission aboard the International Space Station today.

The space mission has been a huge help to US space agency NASA, in terms of research and findings.

After boarding the International Space Station in March, 2015, both Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko have treated everyone to beautiful images taken from space, as well as conducted live spacewalks, giving the viewers an insight into NASA and the space activities.

Here are eight things about Scott Kelly's and Mikhail Kornienko #YearInSpace:

1. It is actually three years in space:

The year long mission actually started a year before Kelly and Kornienko boarded the International Space Station. A year before they left Earth, the astronauts participated in a number of investigations to understand how the human body would respond to long-duration spaceflights. They had to undergo various tests and samples of their blood, urine, saliva were collected for scientists to study. This will be repeated once they return to Earth as well.

2. Mars mission seems closer:

The long-duration mission is also a huge test to see whether humans can maintain their health and capabilities if sent on a similar mission to Mars and after returning to Earth. Considering that the Mars mission will most likely be for a duration of three years, including travel time, understanding the challenges facing humans is just one of the ways research aboard the space station helps the journey to Mars.

3. The science will take time:

The research and analysis on data provided by Kelly and Kornienko will begin as soon as they arrive back on Earth, however, it will take at least six months to six years before the results are published. This is because the scientific process takes time, and processing the data from all the investigations tied to the one-year mission will be no easy task.

4. Not the first time:

This is not the first time that someone has spent a year in space, however, this is the very first time that extensive research using all sorts of equipment has been carried out in space. Scott Kelly is the first American to complete a continuous, year-long mission in space and is now the American who has spent the most cumulative time in space. Before Kelly, Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov spent 438 days aboard Mir between January 1994 and March 1995 and holds the all-time record for the most continuous days spent in space. Cosmonaut Sergei Avdeyev spent 380 days on Mir between August 1998 and August 1999, and cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Musa Manarov completed a 366-day mission from December 1987 to December 1988.

5. International collaboration:

International collaboration is the key, that means that data provided by Kelly and Kornienko will be shared between America and Russia and international partners.

6. Reconditioning:

The astronauts followed a strict diet and exercise regimen aboard the International Space Station, because muscles and bones can atrophy under microgravity conditions. However, they will continue to train after returning to Earth. They will also be required to participate in field tests and functional task tests, which will hep in assessing how the human responds to living in microgravity for such a long period of time. Recovery after a long-duration spaceflight is an essential and critical part of the process to plan missions into deep space.

7. Twin study:

Not everyone is aware that Scott Kelly has an identical twin brother Mark, who is a former astronaut. As per NASA, The pair have taken part in a suite of studies that use Mark as a human control on the ground during Scott’s year-long stay in space. The Twins Study is comprised of 10 different investigations coordinating together and sharing all data and analysis as one large, integrated research team.

8. What next:

This year-long mission is critical in determining NASA's next steps toward long duration missions into deep space, whether they are aboard the space station, a deep space habitat in lunar orbit, or a mission to Mars.

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