NASA astronaut Scott Kelly celebrated his 300th day aboard the International Space Station in style. He spent some time Thursday playing ping pong, but not the kind you play in a pool. He played it with a droplet of water. The paddles are water-repellent and are covered in teflon. Combine that with a drop of water and microgravity, and you’ll see the droplet bouncing back and forth instead of making paddles wet.
Kelly to return to Earth in early March
Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are both spending a full year in space, allowing scientists to perform long-term experiments on them. They are both expected to return to Earth in early March. Kelly has spent the longest consecutive days in space of any US astronaut. The record for single longest space mission ever is held by Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov, who spent 438 days on Russia’s Mir space station in 1994 and 1995.
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The US astronaut has done a lot of quirky activities during his 300 days in space to pass the time. He has cultivated and eaten space lettuce, grown flowering plants, and put on a spooky mask to haunt the space station’s hallways. The video of Scott Kelly playing water ping pong is available in 4K for your enjoyment. Some might say that Kelly is bored out of his astronaut mind. But that’s natural as he has spent 300 days in space.
NASA monitoring Scott Kelly’s physical and mental health
Long-term missions like Kelly’s collect important data to help scientists design and support deep space missions. Kelly is part of an experiment where NASA is monitoring his physical and mental conditions to find out how long-term stay in space affects humans. This insight will be extremely valuable as NASA is planning to send humans to deep space, including Mars, in the next couple of decades.
A few days ago, astronauts were able to grow zinnia flowers in space under the Veggie experiment. NASA is working on a variety of ways to help astronauts become more autonomous during deep space missions.