ISS astronauts returns back to Earth after 115 day mission, including Kate Rubins, 1st person to sequence DNA in space

30 October 2016, 12:42 PM
Three astronauts have landed safely back on earth after a 115-day mission on the ISS.( Image: NASA)
Three astronauts have landed safely back on earth after a 115-day mission on the ISS.( Image: NASA)

The trio astronauts landed safely in Kazakhstan on Sunday following a 115-day mission aboard the the International Space Station, including US astronaut Kate Rubins, the first person to sequence DNA in space.The trio landed southeast of the Kazakh steppe town of Zhezkazgan in clear but frosty conditions after a flight from the orbital lab.

Russian mission control confirmed the touchdown of NASA's Rubins, Roscosmos' Anatoly Ivanishin and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency at 0358 GMT.

"Landing has taken place!" Russian mission control stated, with commentators on NASA TV noting that the Soyuz craft had landed in an upright position.

During the mission, NASA's Rubins successfully sequenced samples of mouse, virus and bacteria DNA while scientists on Earth simultaneously sequenced identical samples. The U.S. space agency says the experiment could help identify possible dangerous microbes on the space station and diagnose illnesses in spacebiologist Rubins and Onishi were both returning from their first missions in space, while flight commander Ivanishin also undertook a five-month mission at the ISS five years ago.

Their journey home marks the first complete mission at the orbital lab for a new generation of Soyuz spacecraft with upgraded features.

The trio's arrival at the ISS was delayed by two weeks as Russian space officials carried out further software tests on the modified Soyuz MS-01 vehicle.

Rookie Rubins' participation in the mission generated particular excitement after NASA announced plans for the career scientist to sequence DNA aboard the ISS in a world first.

In August, Rubins successfully sequenced samples of mouse, virus and bacteria DNA using a device called MinION while Earth-based researchers simultaneously sequenced identical samples.

NASA said the biomolecule sequencer investigation couldhelp identify potentially dangerous microbes aboard the ISS and diagnose illnesses in space.

Rubins was also the first woman aboard the ISS since Italian Samantha Cristoforetti returned to Earth with the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman (199 days) in June last year.

The ISS space laboratory has been orbiting Earth at about 28,000 kilometres per hour since 1998.

First Published: Sunday, October 30, 2016 12:12 PM
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