When ESA astronaut Tim Peake lands back on Earth after his six-month Principia mission, his work will be far from finished. Many scientists will be eager to get more data on how his body and mind have reacted to his time in space. But, first, Tim must adapt to living on Earth again.
Many astronauts note the striking smells and colours upon returning to our planet. After six months of living without a shower, in recycled air and drinking recycled water, the simple pleasures and senses in life are most welcome.
Returning in a weakened state from living ‘without’ gravity, astronauts sometimes need a few days to relearn how to stand up and walk after their bodies have become accustomed to floating around effortlessly. Standing up and balancing can be difficult because gravity affects how the fluids in our bodies behave.
Tim will return to ESA’s astronaut centre in Cologne, Germany while his crewmates NASA astronaut Tim Kopra will head to Houston, USA, and cosmonaut commander Yuri Malenchenko will fly to Star City, near Moscow, Russia.
Some experiments demand immediate access to Tim before his body changes under the influence of gravity. Scientists will draw blood, conduct MRI scans and ask questions in the name of science.
Another group of people interested in Tim are the mission controllers and operational support people. A thorough debriefing is held with multiple teams to understand how things went, what could be improved and how to do things better on the following missions.
Lastly, when Tim has finished his rehabilitation, scientific protocol and debriefings, a tour awaits to explain first-hand what it is like to be in space.