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NASA Crew Returns to Earth.

One of a trio of astronauts back from the International Space Station, Flight Engineer Peggy Whitson set down on the Kazak steppes Saturday at 9:22 EST breaking the record for cumulative days living and working in space by a NASA astronaut. At 665 days, 57-year-old Whitson surpassed her closest competitor, Jeff Williams, by 131 days.

It wasn’t all fun and brinkmanship on the ISS; they did important stuff, too.

Among their scientific exploits, Whitson and [Jack] Fischer supported research into the physical changes to astronaut’s eyes caused by prolonged exposure to a microgravity environment. They also conducted a new lung tissue study that explored how stem cells work in the unique microgravity environment of the space station, which may pave the way for future stem cell research in space.

Additional research included an antibody investigation that could increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs for cancer treatment, and the study of plant physiology and growth in space using an advanced plant habitat. NASA also attached the Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass Investigation (ISS CREAM) on the outside of the space station in August, which is now observing cosmic rays coming from across the galaxy.

The next flight up is scheduled to depart earth from Kazakhstan September 12th.


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