Europe’s oldest astronaut Paolo Nespoli recently arrived home after a 139 day stay on the International Space Station. The 60-year-old Italian spent just three hours returning from the ISS with crewmates Randy Bresnik from NASA and Roscosmos’ Sergei Ryazansky.
He touched down beneath a clear blue sky, and went from the 22 degree Celsius comfort of the ISS to the sub-zero reality of the snow-covered Kazakh steppe.
This was Nespoli’s third mission to space and one in which his body, eyes, sleeping patterns, and eating habits were closely monitored by scientists who are trying to understand how humans adapt to life in space.
In addition to dedicating himself personally to science, he completed 60 experiments on board the ISS in ESA’s Colombus science lab module.
Some mission highlights include the moment he spotted a meteoroid burning up in Earth’s atmosphere while filming a timelapse from the window, and the special Italian pizza meal he made for colleagues after complaining to Ground Control that he was missing food from home.
In addition, Nespoli saw the arrival of four re-supply vessels while traveling a total of 94,136,260 kilometres around the planet from an altitude of around 400 kilometres. Nespoli is now expected to retire, following the completion of 313 days in space across his three missions.