Congratulations for the safe return of NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko who just finished living for almost a full year in space! What an awe-inspiring journey, experience and adventure for these individuals. This mission took tremendous leaps in terms of research to support and propel the next generation of astronauts farther into space.
The main goal of this mission was to help determine what will come next in terms of space exploration. This research supports the dream of going to Mars: research conducted on this mission will help scientists understand the unique challenges of microgravity while living on a spacecraft and how it affects the human body. By understanding these unique circumstances, it helps us mitigate risks for future astronauts and what genetic changes may occur. Traveling to Mars and physically being on Mars will be harsh on the human body, and much of this gathered information will increase the chances of those going to the red planet to survive for a return journey home.
When I think of Astronaut Kelly and other astronauts before him, I see them as true space pioneers. Their commitment to increasing scientific knowledge, allowing scientists to study all aspects of their bodies and their years of training is something I don’t think I personally could do. But because these astronauts were willing to undertake such a huge responsibility in the space community, it is from them that we learn so much.
In terms of this latest mission, Kelly is the first American to complete a continuous year-long mission in space, although four other astronauts have spent more time in space, on the Russian Mir Space Station.
Much of the focus was on the one-year trip in space, but there was an astounding amount of work done before and after the trip, really making this mission three years in length. To truly understand the changes in the human body, numerous samples needed to be gathered before the actual trip to space. Now that Astronaut Kelly is back, new samples are needed to determine changes after the trip. Going through the information and research will take years to process and understand. But having this invaluable information will help future missions, especially when shared with international partners for collaborative work.
Other research was conducted while on this mission as well. In fact, more than 400 other experiments took place. This will help increase biomedical knowledge for human exploration, reduce costs, improve processes and procedures and improve efficiency on future space station missions. The research done up there also included many studies that will benefit all of humanity.
With so much information for scientists and researchers to go through, it may take up to six years to publish that information. That may seem like a long time, but it is just a blink of an eye in terms of time that will bring us that much closer to the possibility of going to Mars.
With with this phenomenal mission over, I think of future astronauts like Astronaut Abby. I wonder how she will benefit from research done from this mission, or how her chances of survival will have greatly increased. And when she returns to Earth from her own journey, I can only dream of what research and scientific discoveries she will endow on future astronauts.
Thank you to past, present and future astronauts – this dream of sending astronauts to Mars is now a reality before us.
Alice joined the TMG team because she believes in space exploration and loves all things related to STEM and space. Her work background is related to Canadian government and coordination of projects. Her free time is spent with her two daughters, traveling and learning whatever suits her interests! She is looking forward to connecting with the growing community!