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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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Space station crew will experience New Year’s Eve 16 times, says NASA

The six astronauts and cosmonauts will go into the last weekend of 2017 with light duty and family conferences before taking the New Year’s Day off.

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The ISS currently has current six crew members on the orbital laboratory. Wikimedia Commons
The ISS currently has current six crew members on the orbital laboratory. Wikimedia Commons

As the astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) orbit Earth once every 90 minutes, they will experience New Year’s Eve 16 times, NASA pointed out. That is 16 sunrise and sunsets 402.3 km above Earth, the US space agency said in a blog post on Thursday. The six astronauts and cosmonauts will go into the last weekend of 2017 with light duty and family conferences before taking the New Year’s Day off.

The current six crew members on the orbital laboratory comprise three US astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts and a Japanese astronaut. Ahead of the New Year, the astronauts are conducting life science studies to help mission doctors keep astronauts healthier and stronger while living in outer space.

Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai took his turn on the exercise bike on Thursday for a study researching physical exertion in space. Doctors measure the astronauts breathing and other parameters during exercise to ensure they have the strength to perform strenuous activities such as spacewalks and even emergency procedures.

ISS is a permanent base for astronauts stationed in the outer sky. Wikimedia Commons
ISS is a permanent base for astronauts stationed in the outer sky. Wikimedia Commons

Flight Engineer Scott Tingle of NASA was harvesting plants for the Advanced Plants Experiment-05 (APEX) and stowing the botany samples in a science freezer for further analysis, the blog post said.

Scientists are exploring how plants respond to microgravity and observing molecular and genetic changes. The two other NASA astronauts living and working aboard the space station are Vande Hei and Joe Acaba. Anton Shkaplerov and Alexander Misurkin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos are the other two other crew members.