Thomas Pesquet at Le Bourget
Science & Exploration

Back on Earth

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ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / Proxima

When ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet landed back on Earth after his six-month Proxima mission, his work was far from finished. Many scientists were eager to get more data on how his body and mind reacted to his time in space. But, first, Thomas had to adapt to living on Earth again. 

The European Astronaut Centre
The European Astronaut Centre

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.

Thomas returned to ESA’s astronaut centre in Cologne, Germany while his crewmates NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson headed to Houston, USA, and cosmonaut commander Oleg Novitsky flew to Star City, near Moscow, Russia. 

Thomas Pesquet presentation at the ESA Pavilion
Thomas Pesquet presentation at the ESA Pavilion

Some experiments demanded immediate access to Thomas before his body changed under the influence of gravity. Scientists drew blood, conducted MRI scans and asked questions in the name of science.

Another group of people interested in Thomas were the mission controllers and operational support people. A thorough debriefing was 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 Thomas finished his rehabilitation, scientific protocol and debriefings, he did a tour to explain first-hand what it is like to be in space. 

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