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3 Astronauts Return to Earth after 115-Day Mission on International Space Station

During the mission, NASA's Rubins successfully sequenced samples of mouse, virus and bacteria DNA while scientists on Earth simultaneously sequenced identical samples

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Russian space agency rescue team helps U.S. astronaut Kate Rubins to get from the capsule shortly after landing of the Russian Soyuz MS space capsule about 150 km (90 miles) southeast of the Kazakh town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016. VOA
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October 30, 2016: Three astronauts have returned to Earth safely after a 115-day mission aboard the International Space Station where American Kate Rubins became the first person to sequence DNA in space.

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Rubins, along with Japan’s Takuya Onishi and Russia’s Anatoly Ivanishin landed Sunday morning near Dzhezkazgan on the treeless Central Asian Steppes.

After they were removed from the capsule, the three space travelers sat on the chilly steppes still in their capsule seats while readjusting to the force of gravity after nearly four months of experiencing weightlessness. They were then taken to a nearby medical tent for examination.

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During the mission, NASA’s Rubins successfully sequenced samples of mouse, virus and bacteria DNA while scientists on Earth simultaneously sequenced identical samples. The U.S. space agency says the experiment could help identify possible dangerous microbes on the space station and diagnose illnesses in space.

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Still onboard the ISS are Russian cosmonauts Andrei Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhykov, along with American astronaut Robert Shane Kimbrough. The three arrived at the space station on October 22. (VOA)

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SpaceX Delivers AI Robot With Ice Cream And Brown Mice

SpaceX's capsule reached the station three days after launching

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SpaceX Dragon is pictured about 30 meters from the International Space Station before being captured minutes later at its capture point of 10 meters from the station.
SpaceX Dragon is pictured about 30 meters from the International Space Station before being captured minutes later at its capture point of 10 meters from the station. VOA

The International Space Station got its first robot with artificial intelligence Monday, along with some berries, ice cream and identical brown mice.

SpaceX’s capsule reached the station three days after launching from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Station astronaut Ricky Arnold used a large mechanical arm to grab the Dragon capsule as the spacecraft soared above Quebec, Canada.

The nearly 6,000-pound (2,700-kilogram) delivery includes the round robot Cimon, pronounced Simon. Slightly bigger than a basketball, the AI robot from the German Space Agency is meant to assist German astronaut Alexander Gerst with science experiments. Cimon’s brain will constantly be updated by IBM so its intelligence — and role — keep growing.

There are also genetically identical mice for a study of gut bacteria, and super-caffeinated coffee aboard the Dragon to go with the fresh blueberries and ice cream.

“Looking forward to some really exciting weeks ahead as we unload the science and get started on some great experiments,” Arnold told Mission Control minutes after snaring the Dragon.

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Artificial Intelligence. Pixabay

When informed it was the 30th cargo ship to be captured by the station’s robot arm, Arnold said, “It’s hard to believe … how far we’ve come. It’s quite an accomplishment.”

Most of those visiting vessels have been provided by private U.S. companies hired by NASA to keep the space station well stocked.

Mission Control said it was fitting that the latest capture occurred over Quebec; the station’s robot arm is Canada’s contribution.

Also read: Scientists Track Chinese Space Station as It Falls to Earth

Besides Gerst, the 250-mile-high (400-kilometer-high) lab is home to three Americans and two Russians. (VOA)