March 12, 2015 – The Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft is seen as it lands with Expedition 42 commander Barry Wilmore of NASA, Alexander Samokutyaev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Elena Serova of Roscosmos near the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 (Thursday, March 12, Kazakh time).
Wilmore, Samokutyaev and Serova returned to Earth after almost six months onboard the International Space Station where they served as members of the Expedition 41 and 42 crews. The spacecraft touched down safely at approximately 8:07 p.m. MDT.
Expedition 42 Commander Barry Wilmore handed the controls of the International Space Station to Expedition 43 Commander Terry Virts in a Change of Command Ceremony Tuesday morning.
Wilmore, Samokutyaev and Serova entered their Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft then undocked from the Poisk module at 4:44 p.m. MDT when Expedition 43 officially began.
The three crew members returned to Earth after a 167-day mission on the orbital outpost that included hundreds of scientific experiments and several spacewalks to prepare the orbiting laboratory for future arrivals by U.S. commercial crew spacecraft.
Some of the return cargo flown aboard this Soyuz was used as part of research investigations aboard the International Space Station. Researchers on the ground are waiting on the return of 17 area dosimeters from one such study, the Area Passive Dosimeter for Life-Science Experiments in Space (Area PADLES). These area dosimeters continuously monitored radiation throughout Kibo, the Japanese Experiment Module. The dosimeters gathered information about space radiation to help manage exposure and provide protection to crew members.
Researchers may use data from Area PADLES to design new radiation monitoring equipment for astronauts and people who work in medical or industrial areas with potential radiation exposure. This knowledge also may help develop better protective measures for the life sciences studies that occur within Kibo. Futhermore, the results from this research could improve design for future spacecraft structures that will shield internal occupants from radiation.
Russian scientists are expecting the return of two incubation containers with planarian worms aboard this Soyuz spacecraft. The Effect of Weightlessness on Processes of Regeneration by Electrophysiological and Morphological Factors (Regeneratsiya-Planaria (Regeneration-Girardia)) investigation is an assessment of the impact of microgravity on the structural and functional regeneration of amputated organs and tissues of planarian worms.
Planarian worms, known for their regenerative processes, can be cut into pieces and each piece can grow back into a complete organism. Study of these organisms in microgravity may have implications for human health and disease, including development of methods for repairing damaged tissue from injury or physical impairment.