BY AARON RIEDER, GUEST COLUMNIST FOR ‘LOOK UP! WHAT’S IN THE NIGHT SKY?’
Many people are aware that NASA has partnered with several other nations to build and maintain the International Space Station.
The ISS allows astronauts to conduct long term space research and experiments. One of the biggest experiments currently going in is actually one of the astronauts themselves. Astronaut Scott Kelly is currently half way through his one year mission on the International Space Station.
This will set a record for the longest time anyone has stayed in space consecutively.
The one year mission began on March 27, 2015.
Kelly, along with Russian Cosmonaut, Mikhail Korniyenko climbed aboard a Soyuz Space Craft to be launched to the International Space Station.
The goal is a better understanding of how the human body is affected by long term space flight. This information is important if humanity is to ever consider long term space exploration. A trip to Mars is estimated to take well over six months so understanding how the body will respond to this amount of time in a low gravity environment is critical to ensuring the safety of our astronauts.
Scott Kelly was the perfect choice for this mission.
Kelly has had a long and eventual career as an astronaut. Kelly has served on two space shuttle missions.
The first mission was STS 103 in 1999. This mission was a servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.
Kelly was the pilot on this mission. Kelly flew again in 2007 as mission commander of STS 118 aboard the space shuttle Endeavour. This mission completed valuable upgrades to the International Space Station.
Kelly flew to the International Space Station again in 2010 for the Expedition 25 and 26 missions. This time it was aboard the newly redesigned Soyuz Capsule.
Kelly stayed on the ISS and became the commander of Expedition 26.
Scott Kelly’s twin brother Mark is also an astronaut and married to former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. On January 8, 2011 Giffords was the victim of an assassination attempt in Tucson, Arizona. Scott Kelly was actually on the International Space Station when the attack on his sister-in-law occurred.
In 2012 it was announced that NASA and their counterparts at the Russian Federation Space Agency were going to select two astronauts to conduct a one year long mission aboard the International Space Station. Scott Kelly was an excellent choice for this position.
Not only was he a veteran astronaut, but because his had a twin brother Mark was also an astronaut, this would allow NASA to be able to study the long term effects more accurately.
You can actually follow Scott Kelly during his year in space on twitter by following @stationCDRKelly and he has been using the hashtag #YearinSpace. Kelly regularly posts pictures and videos from his time on the International Space Station. Kelly and Kornienko will return to Earth in the spring of 2016.
In addition to being the secretary of the Northern Michigan astronomy Club the Rev. Aaron Rieder is the Pastor of the First Congregational Church of Cheboygan.