Lonely Planet Writer

Beautiful images from a year in space as astronaut Scott Kelly returns to Earth

Commander Scott Kelly has spent the last year in space, filling the world’s Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds with amazing images and videos – and also conducting some really important scientific research for NASA.

stationcdrkelly#EarthArt Out of #Africa. #GoodMorning people of Earth from @ISS! #YearInSpace
“#EarthArt Out of #Africa. #GoodMorning people of Earth from @ISS! #YearInSpace” Image by Commander Scott Kelly Instagram

The American astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut, Mikhail Kornienko, are set to return from a year-long mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on Tuesday.

After 340 days in space, Kelly has set a record for most consecutive days in space for an American astronaut.

stationcdrkellyBack on the grid! Returned from #spacewalk and my computer was down. Real-life lesson in importance of connectivity. #YearInSpace #spacewalk #latergram #connectivity #iss #space #spacestation
“Back on the grid! Returned from #spacewalk and my computer was down. Real-life lesson in importance of connectivity. #YearInSpace #spacewalk #latergram #connectivity #iss #space #spacestation” Image by Commander Scott Kelly Instagram

While aboard the ISS, Kelly has been updating his Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram pages, and even conducted NASA’s first Reddit AMA from space.

stationcdrkellyColor palette of the #Spanish coast is an appealing morning view. #GoodMorning from @ISS! #YearInSpace  #colors #colorful #earth #space #spacestation #iss #morning
“Color palette of the #Spanish coast is an appealing morning view. #GoodMorning from @ISS! #YearInSpace
#colors #colorful #earth #space #spacestation #iss #morning” Image by Commander Scott Kelly Instagram

His updates have provided the public with many glimpses into a life lived in space, but the main purpose of Kelly’s mission is to study the effect on the body of long periods in space.

stationcdrkelly: #TuesdayTransformation Enjoying the fruits of labor, literally. #YearInSpace #zeroG #fresh #fruit #ISSCargo #HTV5 #spacefood #space
“#TuesdayTransformation Enjoying the fruits of labor, literally. #YearInSpace #zeroG #fresh #fruit #ISSCargo #HTV5 #spacefood #space” Image by Commander Scott Kelly Instagram

NASA will use data from the impact on Kelly’s body to determine health risks associated with future long-term exploration of space, such as the loss of bone or muscle density.

stationcdrkellyChristmas in July! Great gift for my 100th day in space! Only ~250 more to go (not that I’m counting) #YearInSpace #iss #spacestation #space #fruit #vegetables #ChristmasInJuly
“Christmas in July! Great gift for my 100th day in space! Only ~250 more to go (not that I’m counting) #YearInSpace #iss #spacestation #space #fruit #vegetables #ChristmasInJuly” Image by Commander Scott Kelly Instagram

“During their year-long mission on the station, Kelly and Kornienko gathered valuable biomedical data on the long duration effects of weightlessness on the human body that will be used to formulate a human mission to Mars,” according to NASA.

stationcdrkelly#Africa #EarthArt Earth without art is just Eh. #YearInSpace  #space #spacestation #iss #earth #art
“#Africa #EarthArt Earth without art is just Eh. #YearInSpace
#space #spacestation #iss #earth #art” Image by Commander Scott Kelly Instagram

NASA also has had a unique opportunity in studying Kelly, as he has an identical twin, retired astronaut Mark Kelly. Researchers have been studying Mark Kelly on the ground to compare the differences between the men as one lives in space and the other on Earth.

stationcdrkelly#GoodMorning #aurora and the Pacific Northwest! #YearInSpace  #northernlights #beautiful #morning #space #spacestation #iss
“#GoodMorning #aurora and the Pacific Northwest! #YearInSpace
#northernlights #beautiful #morning #space #spacestation #iss” Image by Commander Scott Kelly Instagram

In a NASA video posted on Monday, Kelly passed the reins of the ISS over to the new commander, Tim Kopra, on the ISS. He noted how important teamwork is to conducting such a mission and thanked everyone on the ground who helped with the program.

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