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3 International Space Station (ISS) crew members gear up for homecoming on Monday, ending their 173-day mission in space

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Washington, April 8, 2017: Three crew members aboard the International Space Station are packing up their gear for a homecoming on Monday, ending their 173-day mission in space, NASA said.

Expedition 50 crew members Shane Kimbrough, Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko will take a ride back to Earth inside the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft.

The are scheduled to land Monday at 7:21 a.m. EDT (4.51 p.m. India time) in Kazakhstan.

“Commander Shane Kimbrough, who is returning to Earth early Monday, took it easy Friday aboard the International Space Station. He and Flight Engineers Peggy Whitson and Thomas Pesquet mainly performed light duty tasks and continued their daily exercise to stay healthy in space,” NASA scientists wrote in a blog post on Friday.

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“Cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko, who are returning home Monday with Kimbrough, continued packing the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft that will parachute the trio to a landing in Kazakhstan after a 173 days in space,” the blog post said.

Ryzhikov, who is on his first mission, will command the Soyuz during its undocking and reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. Borisenko and Kimbrough are both wrapping up their second visit to space.

Whitson will become station commander for the second time in her career Sunday less than 24 hours before her crewmates undock from the Poisk module.

She stays behind with fellow Expedition 50-51 crew members Thomas Pesquet and Flight Engineer Oleg Novitskiy. (IANS)

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December’s Annual Geminid Meteor Shower Puts on a Show

The comet was first spotted in 1948 by U.S. astronomer Carl Wirtanen of Wisconsin.

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The Geminid meteor shower lights up the sky over the Mexican volcano Popocatepetl near the village of San Nicolas de los Ranchos in Puebla state, early on Dec. 14, 2004. The show for 2018 is peaking overnight on Dec. 13 and 14. VOA

Most years, December offers up a spectacular light show in the skies, known to astronomy enthusiasts as the Geminid meteor shower.

This year, the celestial show is set to peak overnight Thursday and Friday, followed on Sunday by a bonus close-up visit by 46P/Wirtanen, the brightest comet to be seen from Earth this year.

The comet will be visible to the naked eye when it flies by Sunday. According to Sky & Telescope magazine, it will also be among the 10 closest comet approaches to Earth since 1950 and the 20th-closest approach of a comet dating as far back as the ninth century.

Also Read: NASA Photographs Mars InSight Lander From Space

The comet was first spotted in 1948 by U.S. astronomer Carl Wirtanen of Wisconsin.

While the Perseid meteor shower in August is more well-known, astronomers said Geminid puts on a better show with the best display of shooting stars.

Geminid will be visible in both Northern and Southern hemispheres. (VOA)