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Out of Orbit

Posted on: March 4th, 2016 by Bri DeRosa

Scott KellyAstronaut and new internet folk hero Scott Kelly broke a record this week when he returned to Earth after 340 consecutive days in space. During nearly a year in orbit, Kelly gained a tremendous following on social media through his breathtaking photography, sense of humor and quirky science experiments.

Coupled with Kelly’s achievement is the larger scientific impact that may arise from his time in space. Researchers are studying not only Scott Kelly’s physical health, but also the health of his genetically identical, earth-bound twin, retired astronaut Mark Kelly. What they learn from the Kelly brothers may change the future of space travel and even make possible, someday, a colony on Mars.

Read about the record-breaking space journey here, then talk about it with your family:

  • Scott Kelly’s incredible photos from space have allowed us to see our world from a different perspective. Have you ever looked at a person, object, or situation from a new point of view? How did it change the way you thought about that thing?
  • Kelly was the first American to stay in space for 340 days, and the first to rack up a total of 520 lifetime days in orbit. If you could be the first to do anything, what would it be?
  • Studying the Kelly brothers is part of NASA’s plan to test out sending humans to Mars within the next 15 years. Would you volunteer to go to Mars? Why or why not?
  • Would you rather: Live in zero gravity for a year; eat mysterious space lettuce; or draw your own blood for testing? (Scott Kelly did all three!)
  • Before returning to Earth, Kelly said, “Leaving this amazing facility is going to be tough because I’ll probably never see it again…I’ve been up here for a long time. Sometimes, I think about it, and I feel like I’ve lived my whole life up here.” Have you ever had to leave a special place behind, knowing that you wouldn’t return? Have you experienced the feeling that you’ve been “at home” in an unexpected place? What was that like?