On March 27th, the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft was launched to the International Space Station with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts from Roscosmos Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka on board. The launch was carried out from the Kazakh cosmodrome Baikonur, located in Central Asia. Two of the expedition members, Kelly and Kornienko, will not return to Earth for a year, and Padalka will spend six months at the station.
The annual mission of Kelly and Kornienko should help scientists of our planet to collect much-needed information about how a human body behaves during a long space flight. One of the main goals of NASA today is to move forward, perhaps even flying to Mars. But before the Red Planet, astronauts will have to fly much more than one Earth year, so studying the reaction of the human body to a long stay in a spacecraft is extremely important in order to ensure the safety of flights to Mars in the future.
Knowledge, which is planned to receive as a result of the expedition, at NASA is considered extremely important. The organization is looking towards expanding human capabilities in matters of traveling around the Solar System, including the aforementioned Mars, the flight time to which may be more than five hundred days. The study may also be useful for people here on Earth, as it will help develop effective mechanisms for the rehabilitation of patients after a long time spent in bed rest, as well as improving the treatment principles for people whose organisms are not able to fight infectious diseases. Today, scientists know quite a lot about how human organs react to being in microgravity for six months (usually this is the time the crew is on the International Space Station). However, this expedition, the annual length, will help scientists learn about other changes occurring in the bodies of astronauts for more time spent in orbit. Researchers will monitor the mental health of Kelly and Kornienko, the condition of their eyes, muscle and bone mass in order to determine how long their stay in space can have a detrimental effect on their health.