ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli and crewmates Randy Bresnik of NASA (right) and Sergei Ryazansky of Roscosmos in their Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft.
The ride home from the International Space Station will see the trio brake from 28 800 km/h to a standstill at touchdown in barely three hours.
Paolo completed more than 60 experiments during his Vita mission, which stands for Vitality, Innovation, Technology and Ability.
His body was itself an arena for research: his eyes, headaches, sleeping patterns and eating habits were monitored to learn more about how humans adapt to life in space.
Temperature recordings, muscle exercises and plenty of blood and saliva samples will add to the picture and prepare humans for missions further from Earth.