Returned ISS crew help advance NASA’s journey to Mars

Washington, June 12 (IANS) The three ISS crew members who returned to Earth had at least one important experiment waiting for them on the ground, which could help advance NASA’s journey to Mars.

Inside a medical tent, researchers put NASA astronaut Terry Virts, Samantha Cristoforetti of ESA (European Space Agency) and Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) through a battery of tests, measuring their balance and ability to navigate tasks, like stepping over obstacles.

“Understanding how the human body re-adapts to gravity is key to planning for future human missions deeper into the solar system,” the US space agency said in a statement.

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.

Research highlights from the returned crew members’ time aboard the space station include the first 3D printed tool in space.

The capability could be key in helping astronauts become more independent on missions far from the Earth.

The human body experiences numerous changes in microgravity. A recent experiment conducted by the space station crew is looking to solve the puzzle of why more than half of astronauts experience changes in their vision.

The Fluid Shifts experiment tests one theory by using special pants to help pull fluids from an astronaut’s upper body to their legs – similar to the effect gravity has on our bodies here on the Earth.

A similar experiment called Drain Brain, conducted by the crew, uses a neck collar to relieve pressure from inside an astronaut’s head, which could help relieve headaches caused by lack of gravity.

Other experiments conducted by the crew have a direct benefit to humanity — helping improve the design of manufactured materials.

Research on the returned crew members will continue over the next few weeks, as they acclimate to life back in gravity, providing key data for future crews training for life aboard the space station.

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