June 11, 2015

Returned Space StationCrew Members Helped Advance NASA's Journey to Mars, Benefits to Humanity

Though they had conducted hundreds of science and technology experiments aboard the International Space Station during their 199 days in orbit, thethree crew members returning to Earth Thursday had at least one important experiment waiting for them on the ground. Inside a medical tent, researchers put the explorers through a battery of tests, measuring their balance and ability to navigate tasks, like stepping over obstacles. Astronauts landing on Mars after a similarly long duration in space won't have the benefit of a medical team waiting for them. Understanding how the human body re-adapts to gravity is key to planning for future human missions deeper into the solar system.

Picture of the Earth from the International Space Station
A final image of Earth taken by Expedition 43 commander Terry Virts of NASA aboard the International Space Station hours before returning home on Thursday, June 11, 2015.
Credits: NASA
Experiments like the Field Test are just one of the ways space station crews are helping advance NASA's journey to Mars while making discoveries that can benefit all of humanity. New science and technology investigations were daily activities for NASA astronaut Terry Virts, Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency), and Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) aboard the orbiting laboratory during Expeditions 42 and 43.

The hundreds of experiments taking place aboard the space station represent a wide range of scientific disciplines, including biology and biotechnologyEarth and space sciencehuman research,physical sciencestechnologyand educational activities.