After a year in space, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly returns to Earth with a list of physical predicaments: sore muscles, skin issues and joint pains, among others.
Kelly spent 340 days in orbit. When he landed in Kazakhstan, Thursday, he felt muscle soreness and joint pains that are far different from the last time he went on space missions.
"That was something that was kind of unexpected," he said in his first press conference since he returned back to Earth.
Kelly also mentioned about a certain skin issue that he has been experiencing since he arrived. He explained that because he had not grasped anything for too long, his skin has grown so sensitive that even mere walking, sitting or lying down create a burning sensation.
Long Space Mission
Astronauts are usually sent to the International Space Station for projects that last for six months at the maximum. However, that is not the case for Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, who both spent twice the usual period of ISS stay.
Kelly said time was rather too slow while up in space, even saying that it seemed like he had lived there forever.
Kelly was sent to space to study the impacts of weightlessness, radiation and congested environment to humans during spaceflight. These things are said to be valuable factors in preparing for future missions to Mars.
Kelly will undergo a series of medical tests, which will run for an entire year. Such tests will look into the physical, mental and psychological states of Kelly, not only to address whatever he is feeling, but also to determine how spaceflights affect humans.
The Space Experience
The space experience for Kelly looked like a busy one as he and his colleagues embarked on over 450 experiments in ISS.
Kelly said it was challenging to be away from family and friends, but he could stay longer if needed.
Most importantly, the experience did not only enrich Kelly's knowledge of space. He also realized more valuable things about the Earth too. This is because during his stay in the ISS, he was able to look down on Earth and appreciate it more.
He recalled how Asia looked very polluted that the grounds cannot be seen very clearly anymore.
He also mentioned about the extensive fire in California during the summer.
Ultimately, the most striking observation he made while up there is how thin and fragile the atmosphere of the Earth has become — something he describes to be alarming considering the amount of pollution he observed.