After the minor glitch with one of the Soyuz spaceships docked on the International Space Station, the ISS Crew landed safely on Earth on Thursday. According to NASA officials, the homecoming was a textbook landing. Astronauts Anton Shkaplerov, Samantha Cristoforetti and Terry Virts stepped on Earth for the first time after a 199-day-long mission.
On the ground, the ISS crew wasn’t yet relieved of their duties. One additional experiment awaited the brave astronauts. The three were led to a medical tent where a team of researchers ran a large battery of tests. Researchers measured the astronauts’ balance and navigation abilities (such as stepping over obstacles).
These tests are aimed at properly understanding how the human body re-adapts to gravity after having spent long periods of time in zero-gravity environments. And more importantly, how fast.
Upon landing on Mars, astronauts selected for those missions won’t have the luxury of a medical team waiting on stand-by. Examining the three ISS crew members is essential in planning for manned missions to Mars and, why not, even further into our solar system.
Astronauts have to be properly trained in order to overcome the many hurdles that such missions entail. Microgravity has certain effects on the human body, including headaches, bone loss and muscle mass loss. While in space, astronauts have a strict training regimen of two hours daily to combat these downsides.
But recent experiments reveal that other effects, such as changes in astronauts’ vision or balance may also occur.
These changes in an astronaut’s vision have been investigated in the “Fluid Shifts” experiment, which attempts to understand whether special pants may help trap (or pull) fluids from an astronaut’s upper half to their legs, much like gravity normally does when on Earth.
Similarly, special neck collars are also being tested in the “Drain Brain” experiment. It proposes to alleviate headaches (which most astronauts experiment in microgravity) by relieving intracranial pressure.
The Soyuz landing module entered the atmosphere precisely as calculated and landed in Kazakhstan, southeast of Dzhezkazgan. Russian astronaut Anton Shkaplerov expressed his satisfaction with the mission, stating that such collaborative efforts should continue in the future.
Aboard the orbiting international laboratory, the three crew members pursued daily research activities and conducted hundreds of experiments in a wide range of disciplines. Shkaplerov, Cristoforetti and Virts, for instance, were aboard the International Space Station as the first the 3D printed tool emerged in space.
But the astronauts aboard the ISS are conducting a variety of other experiments in fields such as biotechnology and biology, space science, human research, technology and physical sciences.
Image Source: 9 News